Search Results for: hyperpigmentation

Is it Hyperpigmentation or Melanoma?

Is it Hyperpigmentation or Melanoma?

Noticing a brown or black spot on your skin that wasn’t there before can be scary. Sometimes, these spots are nothing more than hyperpigmentation, a common and harmless—but somewhat alarming—condition where small sections or patches of your skin take on a darker color than the rest of your skin. Hyperpigmentation is nothing more than concentrated deposits of melanin, which can collect randomly in one spot (or several spots) on your skin.

Unfortunately, the harmlessness of hyperpigmentation sometimes leads individuals who have the condition to ignore dark spots on their skin. If these spots are just concentrations of melanin, you really don’t have to pay much attention to them. However, one symptom of melanoma—the most severe and dangerous type of skin cancer—is brown or black spots or moles on the skin. Without careful attention to detail or medical consultation, it’s easy to mistake melanoma for simply hyperpigmentation (and vice versa).

The Differences Between Hyperpigmentation and Melanoma

Fortunately, there are subtle differences in moles or spots caused by hyperpigmentation and moles or spots. These differences fall into five different categories, which are easy to remember because they bear the initials of ABCDE. In assessing moles or dark spots, these initials refer to asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and elevation. Read on to discover more about the signs in each of these categories that can indicate melanoma rather than hyperpigmentation.

  • Asymmetry: Generally, hyperpigmentation patches (be they freckles, moles, or simple dark spots on your skin) are symmetrical in shape and size. A noticeably asymmetrical dark spot on your skin is worth consulting a doctor about, as it may be a sign of cancer.
  • Border: In addition to symmetry, dark spots caused by hyperpigmentation will have smooth edges that are easy to distinguish. Spots or moles with more jagged or irregular borders are more likely to be cancerous.
  • Color: In hyperpigmentation, melanin deposits can range from light to dark brown. Spots or moles that are black or rusty red in color appear more commonly in melanoma patients. With that said, melanoma spots can also be a more regular brown hue, so use color as a supplement to other identifying factors, instead of using it as your sole decider.
  • Diameter: Moles or dark spots with large diameters—or with diameters that seem to be expanding—are cause for alarm. Most dermatologists say that any skin spots bigger in diameter than a pencil eraser are worth having checked out by a medical professional.
  • Elevation: When it comes to assessing whether moles or spots are hyperpigmentation or melanoma, flatter is better. While some harmless moles are slightly raised, extremely elevated moles are often a sign of a more dangerous skin condition.

All of these factors can help you to determine, on your own, whether the dark spots on your skin are more likely to be the result of hyperpigmentation or melanoma. If you have a mole that is small, with a smooth border, symmetrical, flat, and light brown, chances are pretty good that you don’t have any reason for concern. When in doubt, though, consult your physician. It is invariably better to be safe than sorry when it comes to possible signs of skin cancer.

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What Causes Hyperpigmentation?

What Causes Hyperpigmentation?

A common skin disorder is hyperpigmentation, or a darkening of the skin pigment. Many different diseases, disorders, and actions can lead to hyperpigmentation. By knowing what is causing your dark spots or other skin pigment changes, then you can find the best way to return your skin to its normal color. It is possible to treat and repair the damage that causes hyperpigmentation.

What is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of melanin, the pigment in the skin cells. It can happen to just a small area, creating a freckle or spot, or it can cause problems on a large area of the body. Some people also have hyperpigmentation over their entire body. Typically, hyperpigmentation is not dangerous, making it solely a cosmetic concern. However, it could be symptomatic of another disorder that may be serious. Therefore, you should discuss any hyperpigmentation symptoms with your doctor to ensure there is not a serious condition underlying your skin disorder.

How Does it Develop?

One of the most common forms of hyperpigmentation is sun spots. These are the small to medium spots on your skin, typically the hands or face. They are caused by sun damage to the skin cells that creates an increase in melanin production in just one area of the body. Another common reason for this skin problem is melasma, which is a specific type of hyperpigmentation that arises during pregnancy due to the hormonal changes. Other disorders that affect your hormones, such as Addison’s disease, can also cause a change in melanin production. If you take certain medications, then you may experience hyperpigmentation as a side effect. Freckles are also a form of hyperpigmentation. Injury to the skin is another reason for hyperpigmentation development.

Read: What is the Difference Between Freckles and Age Spots?

How Can You Treat Hyperpigmentation?

There are a few different steps to treating hyperpigmentation. If an illness such as Addison’s disease or some other specific condition such as pregnancy causes it, then you should discuss with your doctor ways to control the hormones or other factors that contribute to the increase of melanin. If you believe it is caused by medicine, then discuss trying another medication instead. Wearing sunscreen and minimizing sun exposure can prevent hyperpigmentation due to excessive exposure to UV rays.

Once you have the cause under control, you can treat the areas of dark skin with a skin lightening cream. However, you want to ensure you do not use creams with harmful or toxic ingredients, especially if you are pregnant or have a medical condition. Common lightening ingredients and bleaches, including kojic acid and hydroquinone, can cause more harm then good, even if they work. Therefore, you should focus on using natural ingredients that will not only lighten your skin, but also help your skin to heal and look its best.

Licorice root extract and vitamin C are two powerful ingredients that nourish the skin, helping it to heal itself, while also expediting the lightening of the dark spots. If you find that your problems do not improve even with treatment, then you can discuss more invasive treatments with your doctor. You do not have to live with your hyperpigmentation; you can get your skin back to looking its best.

Have a question about your scar or dark spots? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to answer.

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Dangers of Using Hydroquinone to Fade Scars and Hyperpigmentation

Dangers of Using Hydroquinone to Fade Scars and Hyperpigmentation

Hydroquinone has made quite a name for itself around the world in skin lightening creams and scar treatment products. What many people may not realize is that hydroquinone is a harsh chemical that exposes you to many dangers.

Hydroquinone is a chemical that inhibits melanin, which is what gives your skin its color. Areas of the skin that have become darker than the surrounding skin – from sun exposure, freckles, acne, or melasma, for example – are often treated with products containing hydroquinone by well-intentioned and hopeful people. Unfortunately, hydroquinone is associated with many health risks, and many people end up disappointed with its results, or worse.

Toxicity
One major problem is that hydroquinone is known to be quite toxic in high concentrations. It is believed by experts to have carcinogenic properties, and it is known to contain mercury, which can cause liver damage as well as other health problems. Other side effects of hydroquinone can include nausea, ringing of the ears, cyanosis, and seizures.

Ochronosis
Ochronosis, a disfiguring skin condition characterized by thickening and discoloration, is believed to be caused by hydroquinone use in some cases, and the chemical has also been implicated in cases of increased pigmentation. That means that using hydroquinone could very well yield the opposite of the effect you are hoping for – darkening and worsening of your scar or dark spot rather than lightening and fading. The highest risk of ochronosis is found in people with darker skin tones.

Photosensitivity
Hydroquinone can also cause increased photosensitivity, meaning that it can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Using hydroquinone on skin that is already sunburned or otherwise irritated can worsen the condition; also, prolonged sun exposure while using hydroquinone can result in severe sunburn. Besides the pain and health risks associated with sunburn, it can also worsen the appearance of scars, sometimes permanently.

Allergic Reactions
Many people who use hydroquinone also have allergic reactions to the chemical. Severe burning, stinging, tingling sensations, hives, trouble with breathing, and throat and mouth swelling have all been reported by hydroquinone users. The appearance of any of these symptoms when using hydroquinone should be considered a medical emergency and evaluated by a doctor at once.

Some countries have banned hydroquinone altogether, citing worries over its safety. Even in the United States, where it is currently legal at limited concentrations, the FDA admits that it cannot be ruled out as a carcinogen and is considering a ban on hydroquinone in over-the-counter preparations because of the safety concerns. Because of all of the health risks of using hydroquinone, in addition to the fact that it may actually worsen, rather than improve, your skin condition, hydroquinone is not recommended for use on scars or dark spots. Instead, choose products containing ingredients that are known to be both safe and effective, such as dimethicone silicone to improve the appearance of your scar, and licorice extract and Vitamin C to fade the dark coloring. Also incorporate healthy and natural lifestyle changes that help your skin heal and your scars fade, such as eating a healthy diet, and getting plenty of exercise and sleep.

Do you have a question about your scars? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to help.

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Melasma Treatment: How to Fade Hyperpigmentation

Melasma Treatment: How to Fade Hyperpigmentation

Brown patches of skin that can appear on the face are known as Melasma. While the exact cause is unknown, it is more prevalent in women than men. There are many common triggers, such as the use of birth control pills, pregnancy, and certain medications that have been known to increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Certain topical treatments are helpful in fading these types of spots. In some cases, a patient may have to experiment with various treatments before they find the one that works for them and is the most effective in treatment.

Treatment Time Frame

When topical treatments are used, it will require an exercise in extreme patience. For improvement to be noticeable, it may take several months of consistently using a topical Melasma treatment as directed. If a patient is working with a dermatologist, it is very important to make sure the directions for treatment are strictly followed in order for the maximum benefits to be received. This way results can appear much sooner instead of later.

The Importance of Sunscreen

When it comes to the treatment of Melasma, it is very important for the skin to be protected from the sun. Even if you are using topical medications or any other regimens the use of sunscreen is crucial to the success of the treatment. Exposure to the sun will weaken the effects of creams made for fading. Your skin’s sensitivity to the sun is increased by the different ingredients used in Melasma treatments, as well. Melasma can worsen if inadequate protection from the sun is an issue. Sunscreens that contain titanium dioxides and zinc with an SPF of 30 are recommended to offer full protection from the damaging rays of the sun.

Commonly Used, But Harmful Ingredients

One of the most common treatments for Melasma is the use of a bleaching agent known as hydroquinone. There are non-prescription versions available that contain approximately two percent, but prescriptions offer concentrations that are as high as four percent. However, this type of treatment doesn’t come without risk. Patients using hydroquinone can experience darkening of spots and a bluish hue developing on the skin. Hydroquinone can also lead to a condition called ochronosis, even when it is bought over-the-counter. This is permanent hyperpigmentation with sooty darkening of the skin. Ochronosis may also cause loss of skin elasticity and impaired wound healing. Other side effects include contact dermatitis (rash, redness, itching and flaking) and nail discoloration.

Kojic acid is a very popular ingredient in products of Asian skin lightening. Like hydroquinone, kojic acid is effective in lightening dark scars, brown spots and even Melasma. Unfortunately, some studies suggest that skin exposed to kojic acid on a regular basis becomes more sensitive. Skin sensitization is bad because it can lead to allergic contact dermatitis.

Treatments that are known to be the most effective will combine agents for skin lightening and exfoliating agents such as vitamin A and glycolic acid. Prescriptions creams that contain topical steroids, as well as other ingredients have been able to produce dramatic results. These agents are known as kojic acid, salicylic acid, extract of licorice, vitamin C, lactic acid, and azeleic acid.

Safe and Effective Ingredients 

One of the most effective, and safe, ingredients to use to fade Melasma are products that contain a stable form of Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid.) How do you know if it is stable? If your Vitamin C turns brown, then it has essentially oxidized and thus no longer effective. To disguise this oxidation, many Vitamin C skin care products are colored brown or dark yellow to begin with. Vitamin C in its stablest form is a powerful anti-oxidant that will help prevent further skin damage, while safely lightening dark spots like Melasma.

As with any skin treatment, in order for the desired results to be achieved, the application of Melasma-fading products have to be used on a regular schedule for a length of time. Have patience, be consistent and you will see results!

Do you have Melasma?

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What is Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation?

What is Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation?

Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation is a type of condition that happens when the melanocytes, which produce pigment, create an abundance of melanin. Dark spots that are black or brown in color will begin to develop where lesions from acne once were. Anyone who has this condition will likely be very disturbed and frustrated.

The condition of Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation is not just something that only people with acne can contract. It can also result from certain medications, allergies, certain types of skin infections, burns, and some diseases of the skin. People who have acne can contract this condition through reactions from some medications to treat acne.

Read: Does Lemon Juice Fade Acne Scars?

One of the most common acne treatments is known as benzoyl peroxide. It can cause skin irritations that can move to pigmented areas of the skin. Statistics show that one in 20 people experience sensitivity to benzoyl peroxide. This sensitivity can result in further skin irritations developing and leading to Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation. This is especially true in those that are dark skinned.

Today many doctors prescribe retinoids for the treatment of acne in patients. Some people will experience moderate to severe skin irritation with this product use. This can predispose those patients to Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation. Because people with high pigment in their skin are at such a risk, many doctors will not even consider prescribing retinoids for those patients. In some cases, retinoids can be used to treat pigmentation inflammatory cases, but not very often.

When retinoids are the cause of pigmentation issues, they may go away when they are stopped. In cases of hyperpigmentation that is a result of acne treatments, this is not necessarily the case. In any case, the first step is to immediately stop whatever type of treatment is causing said irritation. Secondly, begin wearing a high SPF sunscreen to protect the skin from further damage from the harsh rays of the sun. Hyperpigmented skin has two enemies: ultraviolet light and irritation.

Read: How Does the Sun Affect Scars?

Some physicians may recommend a treatment with hydroquinone, which is a topical cream that can lighten the pigmentation by a reduction in pigment production. However, hydroquinone does not come without additional problems or issues. In some animal studies it has been known to increase the risk of certain types of cancer. Some patients have reported that after long-term use they have experienced darkening of the skin instead of lightening. The preservatives in hydroquinone cause some people to have allergic reactions. It is advised that if you are a user of hydroquinone, it is best to apply a very small amount to the area that is pigmented only.

To hide pigmented areas until they can lighten, it is recommended that a good concealer be used.  The lightening could take up to a year. Some other treatments for Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation would be glycolic acid and chemical peels. Before any treatments are implemented it is a good idea to schedule a consultation with a dermatologist. This way you can be advised on the appropriate treatment for any condition.

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