A guide to understanding your hyperpigmentation treatment options in Perrysburg and Fremont, OH
Spots are adorable on Dalmatians and essential when playing Twister, but they can be alarming if they appear on your skin. Skin discoloration is extremely common. Dark spots and patches can appear on any part of the face or body that has been regularly exposed to the sun or has been scarred for whatever reason, regardless of skin color. This is commonly known as hyperpigmentation. In the majority of instances, hyperpigmentation is neither life-threatening nor contagious. However, it can be stressful and make you feel insecure about your appearance. Fortunately, relief and effective treatment are nearby for those in the Perrysburg and Fremont, OH areas, courtesy of board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hope Mitchell and her team at Mitchell Dermatology.
“Hyperpigmentation” can appear to be a huge, scary medical term. To simplify, “hyper” usually refers to excess, whereas “pigment” refers to natural coloring. It all adds up to an excess of the substance that gives your skin its natural color. Isn’t it less scary now?
Hyperpigmentation is a broad term that refers to skin darkening or discoloration. Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) is the most common disorder of hyperpigmentation. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can present as dark spots in an area where an inflammatory process such as acne, insect bites, or other injuries to the skin has taken place. The second most common disorder of hyperpigmentation is melasma. Melasma is predominantly seen in women and can present as characteristic, symmetrical darker areas on the forehead, cheeks, chin, and/or above the top lip. Melasma occurs as a result of hormonal changes, genetic factors, UV exposure, and/or heat exposure.
Hyperpigmentation for skin of color
Because of differences in melanocytes, people with darker skin are more prone to hyperpigmentation. These cells are more active in dark skin because they contain more melanosomes, which are tiny structures that produce pigment. In response to factors such as UV damage and skin trauma, these structures may produce an excessive amount of melanin. Melanin is also more likely to be transported to the skin’s surface. Unfortunately, some hyperpigmentation treatments may aggravate the condition in people with dark skin. As a result, if you want to fade your dark spots, you should see a skin care provider who has experience treating hyperpigmentation in dark skin.
The most prevalent hyperpigmentation types are post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, melasma, and sunspots.
Melasma. Melasma, also referred to as chloasma, is a condition in which larger patches of hyperpigmentation appear most frequently on the face. Melasma can affect both men and women, but it most frequently affects women. It is thought that changes in hormone levels are what cause this condition. Melasma, sometimes referred to as “the mask of pregnancy,” affects 10–25 percent of oral contraceptive users and 10–15 percent of pregnant women.
Sunspots. Sun exposure can result in pigment spots, such as age spots (also called sun spots). They consequently mostly manifest on exposed body parts like the face, neck, décolleté, hands, and arms. They typically appear as small, darkened skin patches.
Hyperpigmentation post-inflammatory. When a wound or trauma to the skin heals and a flat area of discoloration is left behind, this condition is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It is frequently observed in acne patients and may also result from aesthetic procedures like dermabrasion, laser treatment, and chemical peels.
Hyperpigmentation is common among adults, and there are a variety of causes, including:
- Sun exposure
- Reactions to medical conditions, such as Cushing’s disease
- Hormonal changes
- Blue light from screens and electronic devices
Understanding treatment options
Treating both post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and melasma can prove to be difficult to treat and requires a multimodal approach to treatment. Topical and/or oral medications, chemical peels, microneedling, LaseMD, and other laser treatments can be used to improve hyperpigmentation. When hyperpigmentation first appears, it is crucial to see a dermatologist for a definitive diagnosis, as your symptoms could be the result of other skin conditions. The treatment for hyperpigmentation aims to reduce the production of pigment and remove areas of excess pigmentation that have already manifested. Overall, hyperpigmentation treatment should be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint. Results may take weeks or months to manifest.
At Mitchell Dermatology, we’ve discovered a way to ‘calm down’ the cells that overproduce pigment, allowing us to effectively improve the appearance of persistent brown patches and dark spots while also reducing the likelihood of recurrence over time. Our goal is to make sure each of our clients has an optimal experience from beginning to end. Book an appointment to start the process with a personalized skin consultation.
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Hope Mitchell, MD, is the founder and medical director of Mitchell Dermatology and an Ohio board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist. Dr. Mitchell has 25 years of expertise in the field. She is prepared to meet every skin care need with a personalized, one-of-a-kind treatment plan that you deserve.