Whatever you call them, these uneven patches of darker colour on your skin could be making you feel self-conscious or awkward. In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common causes of pigmentation, and in the next article we’ll review the best solutions for getting your skin looking fresher, clearer and brighter.
What’s causing my pigmentation?
You probably think of wrinkles as the biggest factor that flags up ageing skin, but uneven skin tone can also play a big part in making you feel less fresh faced. If you were one of the lucky ones who had glowing, even skin tone in your younger days, then read on to find out why you might be starting to see some darker patches as you age.
Sun spots, age spots and liver spots....I’m confused!
If you combine sun with age, then it’s these names which give the game away, as these annoying darker patches have nothing to do with your liver! Have you lounged on the beach without high factor sun screen or spent a few too many hours on a sun bed? Over time this causes the tanning pigments in your skin (melanin) to be produced in larger amounts and to clump together to form patches of darker skin. Since this is sun related skin darkening, it’s no wonder that the fairer skinned amongst you will be the most affected.
As you get older they can appear on any area of skin that’s exposed to the sun, like your hands or face. Even the best of the Hollywood celebrities like Sean Connery, Betty White and Clint Eastwood aren’t immune to a smattering of age spots in their later years.
The mask of pregnancy or melasma
The spooky name doesn’t refer to a Halloween outfit for mums to be, and melasma isn’t just something that pregnant women suffer from! It’s actually related to changing hormones in your body, with oestrogen highs in pregnancy or whilst taking the contraceptive pill, being the biggest factor to consider.
Unlike sun spots, it tends to affect the darker skinned amongst us, appearing mainly on the forehead, upper lips and cheeks, and sometimes forming a mask like shape, hence the name. It also occurs in the deeper layers of the skin, so needs an experienced practitioner to work with you on the best combination of treatments.
If the darker patches appear during pregnancy then you might want to wait until after the birth, for your skin to settle, before you think of looking at treatment options. During this time, just be sure to use a high factor sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat, as exposure to the sun can make the dark patches worse.
Perhaps you were not so lucky in your younger days and suffered with acne. As you get older, the acne begins to clear, but you might have noticed that it’s left behind dark pink or brown ‘scars’. This probably feels doubly unfair and might be preventing you from finally enjoying having blemish free skin.
These types of marks are called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH for short, and are caused by any form of inflammation of the skin, not just acne. As the skin heals, it can sometimes produce too much melanin leaving behind these dark areas of pigmentation.
Other causes of pigmentation
Occasionally, skin changes can be a sign of something more serious. If the darker pigmentation is also tender, red or bleeding, or you notice a mole which changes in shape or size, then it’s time to book in a quick check up with your GP.
Help! I want the fresh, even skin tone of my youth – What can I do?
As you’ve just read, the reasons for darker skin pigmentation are numerous, and to complicate matters so are the treatments. This is probably why we would recommend going to see an experienced professional, rather than experimenting with a series of home remedies which can often be expensive and ineffective. Worst of all is to consider an under the counter bleaching treatment which may end up damaging your skin and creating problems far worse than the pigmentation you are trying to treat.
How can Transform Help?
The right approach will very much depend on what ‘s causing your pigmentation and what type of skin you have. Often the best results are only obtained with a mixture of treatments which are personalised to you and your needs. Transform has specially trained aestheticians, practitioners, nurses and doctors who will understand the best approach to treating your particular type of skin pigmentation.
You can book a free consultation or find out more about pigmentation treatments here on our website.
In the next article we explore what treatments your skin pigmentation package might include and what they involve.