Dark pigmentation in the skin can be embarrassing.
Known as hyper-pigmentation, the darkness may be isolated to small spots or cover large areas such as the entire face. Dark skin pigmentation is tied to overproduction of melanin, which gives skin its color. Several factors can cause excess melanin production. While it may be frustrating to deal with these dark spots, understanding the cause of your hyper-pigmentation may help determine the best options for removal.
What Is Skin Pigmentation?
Skin pigmentation is the color of your skin due to a certain amount of melanin, a natural pigment that gives your skin, hair, and eyes their unique color. Your skin could become darker or lighter due to changes in your body’s production of melanin.
A variety of factors could cause this, from the genes you’re born with to skin damage from acne or sun exposure. Learn more about what could trigger shifts in skin pigmentation, the role of genetics in skin color, different types of discoloration, and how to treat them.
Causes of Dark Skin Pigmentation.
Your skin tone is the result of a complex process during which special cells inside the outer layer of your skin called melanocytes produce melanin. Inside these special skin cells are organelles (or mini-organs of the cell) called melanosomes. Variations in the color of your skin depend on the amount, size, and functioning of these tiny melanin factories.
There are two key types of melanin: eumelanin and pheomelanin:
▪️ Eumelanin is brown and black in color. It protects your skin by limiting the amount of harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that can break through and picking up reactive oxygen radicals which—if left alone—could damage your cells and DNA and potentially lead to chronic health conditions like cancer.
▪️ Pheomelanin, on the other hand, is yellow and red in color. Unlike eumelanin, pheomelanin provides very little protection from UV rays and can actually support the production of reactive oxygen radicals and the damage they cause.
Your skin pigmentation is determined by the balance of these types of melanin in your skin. This can shift depending on your hormones, interactions with other cells in your body, the impact of certain genes, and more.
1. Sun Exposure.
One of the main causes of dark pigmentation in the skin is sun damage. Exposure to the sun causes the skin to produce more melanin. Ultraviolet rays stimulate the cells that produce melanin, so more pigment is present in the skin, which darkens. Dark spots form because the melanin becomes concentrated in certain areas. Individuals who use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on a daily basis minimize the amount of ultraviolet rays that penetrate the skin, which helps prevent dark sun spots.
Many women experience darkening in skin pigmentation during pregnancy; this is known as melasma. It occurs due to hormone fluctuations in the body and is commonly referred to as a pregnancy mask. It tends to occur more often in women with darker skin, as spots appear on the forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. They are typically dark brown or grayish. Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy may cause similar darkening because they affect hormone levels, as well. Illnesses that affect the hormones, such as Addison’s disease, also are often accompanied by hyper-pigmentation.
3. Acne Scars.
Skin inflammation is another common cause of dark pigmentation in the skin, so people with acne often deal with dark spots from post-acne marks. Post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation is the culprit, giving skin a brownish or purplish cast. Some dark spots from acne scars may last for several months or years, while others are permanent. Post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation occurs more often in individuals with fair skin. Eczema and psoriasis may cause similar dark spots in the skin, and hyper-pigmentation may also result from scars left by burns, cuts, or scrapes.
Vitamin deficiencies, autoimmune diseases, metabolic disorders, and gastrointestinal conditions may trigger hyper-pigmentation. The effect typically fades with effective treatment for the underlying disease or condition.
Medication may also cause dark pigmentation in the skin. Drugs used to treat seizures, malaria, infections, and other conditions may increase melanin.
Some dark spots in the skin are the product of genetics. Freckles, birthmarks, and moles are all usually inherited characteristics. In addition, genetics may make certain individuals more prone to sun spots than others.
Treatment of Skin Discoloration.
Treatment for skin pigmentation discoloration varies depending on the cause. Certain forms of skin discoloration may fade with over-the-counter solutions and self-care, while some skin diseases require ongoing management with the help of a qualified dermatologist.
If you’re dealing with darker than usual skin, you’re probably wondering, Can pigmentation be removed? Before you consider cosmetic procedures, it’s important to check in with your healthcare provider to diagnose and treat any potential underlying causes.
After that, many forms of hyperpigmentation can be treated with therapies such as topical medications like hydroquinone cream, chemical peels, dermabrasion, light or laser therapy, or cryotherapy. However, it’s important to note that some therapies are not suitable for very dark skin types, such as laser resurfacing.
If pregnancy has caused darker skin spots to appear, talk to your doctor about how to manage them. Sunscreen and sun-blocking clothing can help prevent the condition from worsening, and it may naturally fade after you give birth. If not, over-the-counter and prescription creams could help restore your skin tone.
Hypopigmentation and Depigmentation .
If parts of your skin are on the lighter side due to skin damage, time and patience are typically the only treatment you need as your skin rebuilds. In the meantime, cosmetics can help even out your skin tone.
Causes of Dark Skin Pigmentation/ https://www.leaf.tv/articles/causes-of-dark-skin-pigmentation/
What Is Skin Pigmentation?/https://www.verywellhealth.com/skin-pigmentation