Hyperpigmentation comes in many forms, including sun spots, acne scars, brown spots, and even pregnancy mask. These patches of darker skin happen when melanin, which produces your normal skin color, creates heavier deposits in your skin. While these spots are typically harmless, they can make you look older and ruin an otherwise clear complexion. If you’re dreaming of a healthy, even glow to your face, here’s what you should know about avoiding these spots and hyperpigmentation treatment that really work.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation can be caused by many factors, but the number one cause is sun exposure. This is because sunlight is responsible for triggering your production of melanin, which is why you get a golden glow during the summer. Melanin is your skin’s natural way to protect you from UV rays, but too much sun exposure can lead to spots. Sun spots usually occur on areas of your body that get frequent sun exposure, including your arms, hands, and face.
Hormonal changes can also trigger melasma, or pregnancy mask. It isn’t just pregnant women who are affected; taking birth control pills can also cause irregularly shaped dark spots on the arms and face. Melasma usually fades slowly after childbirth, but it may not disappear fully without treatment.
The third common trigger for dark spots is a post-inflammatory reaction when your skin is injured and heals itself. Acne scars are the most common type of post-inflammatory darkness, but it can also be the result of certain cosmetic procedures. When hyperpigmentation is the result of trauma or inflammation, it may resolve itself without treatment, but it may take several months or years.
How to Prevent Hyperpigmentation
While hyperpigmentation can’t always be avoided — especially if you are at high risk — there are steps you can take to guard your skin against spots and splotches.
Wear sunscreen whenever you go outside, even if it’s cloudy. Choose an everyday sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection and a high SPF rating. This is the most effective and reliable way to prevent hyperpigmentation.
Don’t just rely on sunscreen. When outside on a sunny day, wear a hat and stay in the shade as much as you can.
Reduce inflammation. Don’t pick at pimples, which increases the risk of scarring and acne marks.
Use a gentle exfoliant once or twice a week, which can help remove old, discolored skin cells.
Use a moisturizer to soothe skin. This can reduce irritation and prevent scratching, which may trigger hyperpigmentation.