There are cells (melanocytes) in the skin that make a pigment called melanin, primarily responsible for skin colour.
When these cells are damaged or overstimulated, melanin production is affected. A number of factors can trigger an increase in pigmentation, but the main ones are sun or UV exposure, hormonal influences, age and skin inflammation or injuries.
Some skin disorders affect the entire body, whereas others just affect patches of skin. High levels of melanin cause darker skin (hyperpigmentation), low levels cause lighter skin (hypopigmentation).
People who are affected by pigmentation in either form often feel its appearance is embarrassing and impacts on their self-confidence. The disruption of melanin production in hypopigmentation may be caused by inflammation of the skin or a genetic condition, so it would be advisable to investigate this before seeking treatment.
You are most likely to develop increased pigmentation on the areas of your skin that receive the most sun exposure, including your face, back of hands, exposed areas of the neck, trunk and limbs. Skin discolouration due to problems with melanin can be hormonal, like melasma, which can be stimulated by hormonal contraceptives and pregnancy, although men can develop the condition as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pigmentation changes can affect anyone, but is more common in people with certain risk factors. These include:
· Being older than 40 years old.
· Having fair skin, although darker skin types also can get increased pigment
· History of frequent sun exposure or tanning beds
· Family history
· Strong association with hormones e.g contraceptive pill or pregnancy
At London City Skin Clinic, a bespoke treatment plan will be devised according to the patient’s individual skin type, symptoms and causes of the condition. Treatment with medical grade skincare can assist in the reduction of the appearance of pigmentation and produce a more even skin tone. Vitamin C serums and retinoids will be key components of the regime, as well as high grade SPF protection. For significant pigmentation, Obagi Nu-Derm system can be effective, or the use of time limited hydroquinone products.
Ongoing treatment and review plans may also be necessary for this condition and London City Skin Clinic will be able to discuss this with you.
Skin dermatology consultations are £50 per appointment. These are undertaken by Dr Robby Bajaj.