Dealing With Skin Discoloration
Too much sun, rashes, acne scars, injury, hormones and genetics are the usual suspects for what is commonly known as discoloration or hyperpigmentation. Your discoloration may be due to any one of these factors, or several in combination.
The first and most important question is “what caused your discoloration?” This is important because you must stop any activity that further promotes or prolongs your condition if you want to change your skin. Read through those culprits again.
Which might be your skin enemy? Are you remembering to wear sunblock every single day, avoid tanning, and to wear a hat if you’re out in the sun? Have you spoken to your doctor about how the hormones in medication, especially birth control pills, might make you susceptible to skin discoloration? Your efforts to correct skin discoloration will all be undone if you don’t close the door on the discoloration-generating behaviors now.
The next question is how to heal the discoloration. As problem skin specialists for 28 years, I study a client’s skin closely to determine where the hyperpigmentation is located, either dermal (beneath the top skin layer) or epidermal (in the top skin layer). This tells me where and how to treat the problem.
There are three main types of discoloration. Their characteristics and recommended treatment are listed below. Regardless of your type of problem, I hope you will take this one piece of advice: laser therapy in many cases may be disastrous and should seriously be avoided. It may worsen discoloration problems.
This type of hyperpigmentation is the darkening of the skin that results from acne, bad chemical peels, rashes, laser therapy and injury.
The darker your normal skin pigmentation, the more readily you may develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. For example, individuals or Latin or African ancestry are more susceptible to dark spots from acne, and the healing process after treatments like chemical and laser peels take longer.
- Fading cream – We recommend Ambi Skincare Fade Cream
- Fruit-acid peel (depending on scarring) – We recommend Glycolic Acid Peel
- Chemical peel (in most serious cases)
The cause of sun derived hyperpigmentation is just that — the sun! But the degree and rate in which it occurs depend on your ethnicity. For example, freckling usually occurs in fair-skinned people. Incidentally, this discoloration occurs mostly on your cheeks and nose which is where a majority of the sun rays strike.
You probably experienced most of this discoloration in your 20’s and 30’s which is the age that the hyperpigmentation starts showing. However, this too can be affected by ethnicity. Sunlight-derived hyperpigmentation usually will appear most notably along the cheekbones, the bride of the nose, and the upper lip.
- Fading creams – We recommend Ambi Skincare Fade Cream
- Alpha-hydroxy acid products, like this one: Alpha Skin Care Intensive Renewal Serum
- Light fruit acid peels (Be extra careful with peels. If done improperly, it may worsen the condition.) – We recommend Refresh Skin Therapy
Melasma is a hyperpigmentation problem that is common among relatively young people. When hyperpigmentation appears in middle-age it is known as lentigos and seborrhoeic keratosis.
Melasma is characterized by flat, golden-brown or tan pigmentation spots; or warty, grey to brown bumps that develop in the sun-exposed areas such as the head, neck, forearms and/or hands.
- Fading cream – We recommend ACTIVSCIENCE
- Alpha-hydroxy products, like this one: Alpha Skin Care Intensive Renewal Serum
- Chemical peel (recommended if you have significant pigmentation problems or seek a high rate of success)
Correcting your skin discoloration problems takes time. Protect your skin to avoid further discoloration, and be religious in your use of the products and treatments described above. Remember also to drink lots of water and eat a balanced diet of fresh foods. Eating well will give your body the building block to create healthy new skin cells to replace the old discolored ones. Start long before your wedding day and be patient. Regular care each and every day will help give you the clear, even complexion of a glowing bride.