Hyperpigmentation is a common condition in which areas of the skin become darkened. Several factors can cause our skin to become hyperpigmented. Hyperpigmentation can occur anywhere on the body, and can result from a variety of health, environment and lifestyle factors, including excessive sun exposure, injury/burns, post-acne scars, side effect of medication, ageing, and the use of birth control pills. Numerous treatments are available to fade hyperpigmented skin, from over the counter and prescription products to medical treatments.
Use a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher whenever you step out in the sun, as sunlight worsens hyperpigmented skin. According to the Skinacea website, sunscreen enables quick fading of the hyperpigmented skin and prevents existing dark spots from further darkening.
Exfoliate hyperpigmented skin at least once a week. Use a body wash containing an exfoliant or use a washcloth to scrub the body while bathing.
Check with your doctor for first line therapy prescriptions that lighten the skin. Creams like Differin, Retin-A, Tazorac and Finacea combine hydroquinone, tretinoin and topical corticosteroids, to lighten the skin.
The Facial Plastic Surgery website recommends using over-the-counter chemical peels that contain AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) which are exfoliating agents that help to fade hyperpigmented skin. AHAs and BHAs are comprised of skin lighteners like kojic acid, liquorice extract, arbutin, fruit extract and vitamin C.
Undergo non-ablative laser treatments that make use of intense pulsed light (IPL) systems and pulsed dye lasers to treat hyperpigmented lesions, without causing injury to the surrounding skin. High intensity light heats up the hyperpigmented area to eliminate the dark spots.
If the hyperpigmentation is a small lesion like an age spot and localised to a specific area, try cryotherapy. Cryotherapy is an effective and inexpensive treatment that addresses the pigmented area by freezing and fading it.
Choose a sunscreen that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide for enhanced sun protection.
Be consistent and patient while using exfoliating or topical applications, as it may take two to three months to see results. Topical applications for hyperpigmented skin can cause skin redness, peeling, itching and dryness. Laser treatments for hyperpigmentation are expensive and the results can be unpredictable.