About Hyperpigmentation and treatments at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta
Hyperpigmentation is a harmless skin condition in which the body over-produces the pigment melanin causing the appearance of dark, blotchy patches of skin. Hyperpigmentation occurs most commonly on areas of the face including the forehead, cheeks, upper lip and chin. Typically after the age of 30, hyperpigmentation becomes more visible on areas of the body in the form of age spots. Often the result of overexposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, hyperpigmentation has no other symptoms but is often the cause of cosmetic anxiety.
There are several types of hyperpigmentation including sun-induced, hormone-induced, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Sun- or UV-induced hyperpigmentation is the result of overexposure to the sun’s damaging UV rays. Hormonally-induced hyperpigmentation is most often seen in women, specifically those who are pregnant or taking birth control, and is the result of the body’s reaction to estrogen and progesterone. This hyperpigmentation in women is called melasma. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation includes acne scarring and can also be the result of incorrectly administered chemical peels or an aggressive IPL treatment.
Blotchy patches of dark skin across the face and areas of the body including the chin, cheeks, forehead, upper lip, hands, chest and legs.
Prevention of sun-induced hyperpigmentation is as easy as wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen, long clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat. Preventing the sun’s harmful rays from reaching the skin is the best way to avoid sun-induced hyperpigmentation.
The use of cosmetics and over-the-counter creams used to lighten skin is the non-aggressive and least intense form of treatment for hyperpigmentation. Cosmetics like concealer and foundation work to cover up the patches of darker skin while lightening creams use chemicals to produce a more even complexion. Prescription skin lightening creams are also available.
The Laser Institute of Georgia is Dermatology Associates of Atlanta’s answer to hyperpigmentation. Procedures like laser skin resurfacing for the face, or one of our other lasers that can remove age spots from the body, offer the latest technology in reducing the appearance of dark spots caused by the sun. Our laser resurfacing technologies work by removing the topmost layer of the skin to reveal healthy skin beneath.
Who can get hyperpigmentation?
Anyone can develop hyperpigmentation, particularly those with fair to medium skin tones who have spent a lot of time in the sun or tanning beds without sunscreen before the age of 18, since this is when most of our sun damage occurs. Hormonal hyperpigmentation is most likely to occur in women, and especially those who are pregnant or taking birth control. Melasma is most common in adults with darker pigmented skin and can also occur after improperly performed laser procedures or as a residual effect from acne.
Is hyperpigmentation permanent?
Hyperpigmentation, depending on its cause, can disappear within a short amount of time or last forever. Often called the “pregnancy mask,” hyperpigmentation caused by pregnancy often disappears after a woman has given birth. However, hyperpigmentation as a result of sun exposure, acne or a poorly performed treatment should be evaluated by a board certified dermatologist to determine treatment options.
Is hyperpigmentation harmful?
No. Overexposure to the sun, which can cause hyperpigmentation, is harmful. However, hyperpigmentation itself is not dangerous.