Hyperpigmentation is a condition that occurs when there is an an overabundance of melanin being produced by your skin. Melanin is a determinant of skin color, and how much you have is determined mostly on your genetic make up. Sun exposure, hormones, skin damage, and the use of certain chemical products can increase the production of melanin. Hyperpigmentation may also be caused by skin injuries or inflammation due to other skin conditions like, rosacea, psoriasis, melasma, or acne. Many women experience “the mask of pregnancy.” This happens when hormone levels are unbalanced and in return causes several dark patches of hyperpigmentation, that are most often temporary and will fade on their own after hormone levels return back to normal postpartum. There are several skin lightening treatments for hyperpigmentation, some you can do at home, while other treatments have to be done under the supervision of a dermatologist.
Hydroquinone is one of the most widely used ingredients for the treatment of hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone is a skin lightening cream that decreases the amounts of melanin where it is applied on the skin. It can be used to lighten the dark spots caused by hyperpigmentation that is caused from melasma, pregnancy, birth control or hormone medications, liver spots, freckles, acne scarring, or injury to your skin. You can purchase over the counter creams and lotions that contain this ingredient, but the FDA has regulated that in over the counter skin lighteners the hydroquinone levels have to remain at 2% strength. If you want a higher dosage you can make an appointment with your dermatologist for a prescription that can have a strength of 4% hydroquinone. It is highly important that you follow the instructions on the package, or as directed by your dermatologist. Before applying the hydroquinone, test a small area of skin and check the area a few hours later to make sure you don’t have any serious side effects. If you experience any redness, swelling, itchiness, or blistering, do not continue use of this product and contact your physician. If you experience some mild discomfort, then you may continue your treatment using hydroquinone. It is recommended that you use this product twice daily, and apply to the skin only. If contact with other areas occurs there may be undesired skin lightening. With use of this hydroquinone you may experience sensitivity to the sun, so it is important that you avoid tanning or prolonged amounts of sun exposure. You may also consider wearing protective clothing like wide brim hats, sunglasses, and a sunscreen to cover the treated areas while being outside. With daily use you of hydroquinone should see significant skin lightening and even skin tone within two months.
Other Treatments That Actually Work
Other skin lightening treatments include corticosteroid creams, tretinoin creams, microdermabrasion, and laser treatment therapy. Corticosteroid creams have been proven to fade areas of hyperpigmentation and reduce skin irritation that may be caused by other topical medications. This cream can be prescribed by your physician or dermatologist and should be used exactly as directed and should not be discontinued without the consent of your doctor. Tretinoin creams are one of the most effective skin lightening treatments that can be prescribed by a dermatologist or doctor. This cream is a high dosage of retinoids that can help fade hyperpigmentation in up to six weeks. Tretinoin creams may cause mild skin irritation that includes dryness, peeling, stinging, or redness in the first few weeks of use. It is recommended that you do not use other topical products when using tretinoin creams, unless directed to do so by your dermatologist. This cream is also not safe to use if you are pregnant.
Micro dermabrasion treatments are also recommended for skin lightening. These treatments can fade your hyperpigmentation by removing layers of skin to increase cell turnover. You can expect redness and possible scabbing with the first few dermabrasion treatments. You may also require several sessions to acquire you desired results. Laser treatment therapy is another option for skin lightening. During this treatment, the cells that are responsible for creating hyperpigmentation are destroyed while leaving the surface of the skin unscathed. It is recommended that you undergo several laser treatments to achieve desired results. These treatments are often expensive, but well worth the price, as dark spots are guaranteed to fade after just a few weeks of treatment.