Tips to manage and treat hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is the formation of dark patches on the skin. It is a common and often distressing condition that can occur irrespective of skin type and complexion.

There are multiple causes for this problem. Dark spots on the face, post-acne marks, skin damage from sunlight and pigmentation are commonly referred to as Chhaiyas.

Hyperpigmentation is caused by an increase in the production and deposition of melanin, the colour pigment produced by special cells in the skin (melanocytes). Treatment depends on the duration of the problem. New patches are often easier and faster to get rid of than ones that have been on the skin for years.

Sun Damage: Dark skin patches often occur due to exposure to the sun. These are sometimes called age spots, lentigenes or liver spots and are often seen on the face, hands and shoulders. Most people do not realise that even on cloudy days, with only momentary bouts of sunshine, the UV index can high and sunburn can occur easily.

Scars: Post-acne scars often occur in the form of pigmented patches. Acne is a chronic disorder characterised by inflammatory papules, pustules, pimples, open and closed comedones, cysts and nodules affecting both adolescents and adults. Inflammatory acne lesions can disrupt the epidermal basal layer causing the melanocytes to increase melanin production.

Freckles: Ephelides or freckles are dark spots that are inherited and a stubborn condition that is difficult to treat.

Melasma or Chloasma: Usually called ‘the mask of pregnancy’, this is defined by brown patches on the skin as a result of hormonal changes during pregnancy. Usually these dark spots disappear on their own after delivery. Sometimes birth control pills can also cause pigmentation.

Other than sun exposure, other causative factors include autoimmune and thyroid disorders and photosensitising drugs

Treatment

First, the doctor has to check whether pigmentation is epidermal or dermal. Only epidermal pigmentation responds to treatment. First-line therapy includes prescription creams to lighten the skin. These contain a combination of hydroquinone, tretinoin, and a class V to VII topical corticosteroid but this usually takes a long time. Chemical peeling with glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid is an option for patients with severe melasma unresponsive to topical bleaching agents.

There are some simple and effective home remedies that one can try.

Lemon Juice: Lemon acts as a natural bleaching agent. Mix equal quantities of lemon juice and water and apply it on the spots. Leave on for 10 minutes and then rinse.

Aloe Vera: Aloe vera is a powerful astringent and can be directly applied to acne spots.

Potato: Potato is a common skin lightening and bleaching agent. Apply thin slices of potato to the skin and leave on for 20-30 minutes so that the juice is absorbed by the skin.

Turmeric and Milk: Apply the mixture of turmeric and milk on the affected area and leave it for 10 minutes before washing. Both milk and turmeric have bleaching properties and regular use makes the skin flawless.

Apart from these remedies, have a regular skin care routine. Keep the skin hydrated, moisturised and well nourished. Apply sunscreen before going out in sun, whether you are 16 or 60, to prevent the sun’s rays from damaging and aging your skin.