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Hyperpigmentation: What you need to know.

What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation can sometimes be referred to as a condition, which is not accurate. It is in fact a term that describes skin that appears as dark patches on the skin.

Hyperpigmentation is in essence, an excess production of melanin. What is melanin? It is a pigment that gives skin its colour. It’s produced by skin cells called melanocytes. Several different conditions or factors can alter the production of melanin in your body. That’s the scientific factors covered, but what does it mean for you, and how can you avoid dark patches on your skin?

It can:

· occur in small patches

· cover large areas

· affect the entire body

While hyperpigmentation or darkening of the skin in certain areas isn’t usually harmful, it can be a symptom of another, possibly more serious, medical condition. At Neostrata we address dark patches on skin with our advanced discoloration range, which is designed specifically to pinpoint and treat uneven skin tone and dark spots for a range of skin types and colours.

There are different types of skin discoloration and each one requires a unique formula to target and treat, according to your skin type, texture and colour.

· Melasma: This is believed to be caused by hormonal changes and can develop during pregnancy. Areas of hyperpigmentation most commonly appear on any area of the body, but appear mostly on the stomach and face.

· Sunspots: Also called liver spots or solar lentigines, sunspots are probably the most common forms of discoloration in women. They’re related to excess sun exposure over time. Generally, they appear as spots on areas exposed to the sun, like the hands and face.

· Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation: This is a result of injury or inflammation to the skin. A common cause of this type is acne.

Unpacking symptoms and risk factors of hyperpigmentation

Uneven skin tone and dark patches on the skin is characterized by areas of hyperpigmentation on the face, chest, shoulder or hands, caused by years of accumulated sun exposure. Also known as sun spots, age spots and dark spots, these areas of discoloration are visible markers of photoaging. Skin may also become discoloured after pregnancy or from taking oral contraceptives. Along with everyday sun protection, our range of potent formulas can significantly reduce the look of uneven skin tone and dark spots.

The biggest risk factors for general hyperpigmentation are sun exposure and inflammation, as both situations can increase melanin production. The greater your exposure to the sun, the greater your risk of increased skin pigmentation.

Depending on the type of disorder, other risk factors for dark patches on the skin may include:

· oral contraceptive use or pregnancy, as seen with melasma

· darker skin type, which is more prone to pigmentation changes

· drugs that increase your sensitivity to the sunlight

· trauma to the skin, such as a wound or superficial burn injury

How is hyperpigmentation diagnosed and treated?

A dermatologist can diagnose the cause of your hyperpigmentation and shed light on dark patches on skin. They will most likely request your medical history and give you a physical exam to determine the cause. In some cases, a skin biopsy can narrow down the cause.

Home care also includes using sunscreen. Sunscreen is the single most important factor in improving most causes of hyperpigmentation. Look for:

· a physical blocking sunscreen, preferably with zinc oxide as the main active ingredient

· at least an SPF 30 to 50

· broad spectrum coverage

On top of sunscreen there are a number of topical treatments that come highly recommended. Neostrata leads the way in skin discoloration and hyperpigmentation. Our Enlighten Power Trio is a powerhouse set of products, made up of Ultra Brightening Cleanser, Illuminating Serum and pigment Controller Moisturizer, which together form your best defense when it comes to addressing dark patches on skin.