December 10, 2023


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Getting the sun on your face? How to spot and manage hyperpigmentation#sun #face #spot #manage #hyperpigmentation

Many of us spend a lot of time and effort trying to achieve an even toned complexion but what exactly are those pesky little patches that keep us propping up the colour correcting marketing?

It could be that you have been exposed to a little more sunshine than usual and you are noticing more dark spots, or you may be expecting a new little human and simultaneously be finding it more difficult to even out your skin tone – both are common circumstances in which you could be experiencing hyperpigmentation. What is hyperpigmentation? Put simply, pigmentation or hyperpigmentation is the darkening of the skin, tan or freckles. We all have pigment within our skin, which helps to shield the skin from light exposure. When we experience prolonged light exposure, this can cause enzymatic activity that attempts to create a shield for the skin. Alongside sun exposure, hormones and taking certain medications such as HRT or the contraceptive pill can cause pigmentation. There are many types of pigmentation, including:

Melasma: Caused by hormonal changes, melasma presents itself as grey and light brown patches of skin that tend to appear in sun-exposed areas. Due to the pattern of presentation that can occur during pregnancy (in the shape of a butterfly across the nose and cheeks), melasma is often referred to as ‘the mask of pregnancy’ but the condition can also occur during menopause or whilst taking some forms of contraception.

Sunspots: Also referred to as age spots or solar lentigines, these are flat, round or oval spots that vary in size and occur in places where pigmentation has increased.

Freckles: A form of hyperpigmentation caused by genetics and sun exposure.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation: Dark spots that can arise after an injury or wound has healed.

What can you do?

Treatments take time and require patience but there are some things you can do to help including:

Topical creams: You can help to prevent pigmentation by using a broad-spectrum SPF, antioxidants and vitamins A and C and these formulas can also be used to reduce any discolouration. Topical vitamin A, such as the Environ Skin EssentiA Antioxidant AVST Moisturiser (€66, helps to regulate melanin production in the skin and can assist in the repair of cellular damage to the skin, making it ideal for addressing areas of pigmentation. Vitamin C is another potent antioxidant I recommend adding to your routine. This hero ingredient not only helps to limit any damage caused by free radicals but helps to brighten the skin and address any pigmentation.

Include brightening ingredients: Tyrosinase inhibitors – such as vitamin C and liqorice root extract – stop tyrosinase – an enzyme that allows the synthesis of pigment and should be included in the regime of anyone looking to target pigmentation. Tranexamic acid (TXA) is a derivative of Lysine, an amino acid and skin brightener, tackling pigmentation and helping to reduce the appearance of any scars or marks. As it has pigment inhibiting ability without speeding up skin cell turnover, it can be used alongside other exfoliating acids (in moderation!). Top tip – this works great with hyaluronic acid and SPF.

Gently increase exfoliation: Although not the long-term answer to correct the DNA damage that has occurred due to hyperpigmentation, exfoliation can help to boost skin cell turnover. Do this by introducing a lactic acid or glycolic acid exfoliating cleanser a few nights a week or every night, depending on the strength.

Micro-needling: To see more of an impact on your pigmentation, you could try micro-needling, which triggers the skin’s healing process and has the potential to have a big impact on pigment.

Galvanic therapy: Uses low-level currents to penetrate the dermal layer of the skin to boost skin regeneration at a cellular level. Galvanic facials are a great in-clinic favourite of mine, and can excel at addressing dullness, uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation.

Laser resurfacing and chemical peels: Can both help to lighten dark patches. Laser therapy is a treatment in which beams of light can be targeted to remove a layer of the skin. Alternatively, beams can be directed to the dermis to promote collagen growth, which can help to reduce dark spots. Studies have shown that laser treatments are at their most effective when combined with other methods of treatment such as chemical peels and topical lightening creams.

Addressing pigmentation takes time. Areas of pigmentation may have formed after many years, so you need to be patient when it comes to expecting visible improvements. It is possible that you may notice a difference after around 28 days (the length of the average skin cycle), but for more dramatic results, you should expect to wait about six months.

How often should we examine our skin?

Noticing a new dark patch or spot can be anxiety inducing but examining our skin is a necessary part of keeping us healthy. It is important to regularly check your skin for anything new or any changes to existing patches of skin, moles or spots but how often is regular enough? ‘Examine yourself from head to toe every month,’ Professor Caitriona Ryan, a dermatologist at the Institute of Dermatologists Ireland advises. ‘Learn the moles, freckles and other skin marks that are normal for you. Stand in front of a long mirror and have a hand mirror that you can use to check parts that are hard to see. Ask a relative or friend to check your back or other hard-to-see areas like your scalp or the back of your neck. It may help to take photographs of your skin and compare any changes that occur over time. If you detect something that concerns you, visit your GP.’

Nerdie Knowledge: Is there anything that can be done to treat poikiloderma?

‘Poikiloderma of Civatte is very common in Irish patients,’ says Caitriona. ‘It is a mottled, reddish-brown discoloration of the skin of the neck and chest, along with broken blood vessels, thinning skin and fine wrinkles caused by chronic UV damage, which can produce a very aged appearance of the decolletage. I find that it is more common in patients with rosacea. The absolute most important step for patients with poikiloderma is to always use daily zinc-containing SPF to prevent worsening of the condition. Topical treatments such as hydroquinone, retinoids, and vitamin C can help to reduce the appearance of discoloration and improve the skin texture. My absolute favourite treatment for poikiloderma is intense pulsed light (IPL). Patients experience a significant improvement in the appearance of their neck and chest after 4-6 treatments a month apart.’

#sun #face #spot #manage #hyperpigmentation

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