Freckles, age spots, sun spots, liver spots or plain old pigmentation: whatever you call it, irregular skin discolouration is a common and distressing problem caused by factors such as sun damage, some inflammatory skin disorders and hormonal fluctuations.
In its various forms, pigmentation affects more than 80 percent of women in their lifetime.
Pigmentation refers to changes in the melanin (pigment) of your skin, but there are different types and they do not all respond to the same treatments. It goes without saying that correct diagnosis of the type of pigmentation you’re experiencing is essential if you’re to benefit from treatment protocols.
Common types of pigmentation
The most common type of pigmentation is ephelides, or freckles. These develop after repeated exposure to sunlight, particularly if you have a fair complexion. They appear darker during the sunny months and fade in the winter. Heredity also influences freckling.
Also referred to as liver spots or sun spots, these are pigmented spots with a clearly defined edge. They may occur anywhere on the body and vary in colour from light brown to black. These spots are caused by UV sun exposure and the degree depends on how much UV light these melanin pigments are exposed to. These must be monitored as they may develop into skin cancer and melanoma. Annual checks with your skin specialist are essential.
Melasma or chloasma is pigmentation that is deeper in the skin’s dermis. It appears on the face as larger brown patches with a non-distinct border. This type of pigmentation is more common in women. Though causes are unknown, it is often stimulated by hormonal increases. The condition is made worse with UV exposure, some medications, pregnancy and stress.
This is a response to injury of the skin and can be the result of acne, burns, friction or aggressive clinical treatments such as chemical peels, dermabrasion, laser and IPL. This condition often resolves with time and generally responds to topical products, although it can recur.
How to treat
An experienced cosmetic doctor can correctly diagnose and recommend clinical treatments ranging from topical creams to Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Photo Dynamic Therapy (PDT) through to more specific PicoWay and Diolite laser treatments.
These light-based therapies are effective on most people with specific skin conditions such as pigmentation, sunspots, broken capillaries, redness and uneven skin texture. It can also improve the overall tone and texture of the skin, as well as treating fine lines by creating a more plumped up appearance. A series of four to six treatments may be required for optimum results, with certain conditions and some treatments.
Clinical laser and light treatments can significantly reduce or even cure hyperpigmentation, but it pays to maintain results with dedicated home care products. Quality active skincare goes hand in hand with an in-clinic treatment plan and, of course, an SPF30-50 sunscreen that is suitable to use on the face, neck, hands and décolletage.
As with all specialised skin treatments, it is important to find a clinic with experienced practitioners who understand exactly which type of pigmentation you have in order to deliver the best results possible.
If you’re ready to do something about your skin discolouration, contact us today and book a consultation with one of our doctors..
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