Depending on the type of pigment and its origin, there are a few treatments that can reduce or eliminate the pigment.
Types of pigmentation
FrecklesFreckles are small clusters of pigment that become more accentuated after sun exposure. They more common in people with fair skin.
Sun spots/Liver spotsThey are caused by overexposure to the sun during the early years but they usually don't become visible till the person is over 40. The body tries to protect itself from harmful UV by creating melanin clusters in the deep layers of the skin. As age advances the pigment raises to the surface becoming visible.
BirthmarksThey appear at birth and are characterized by light to dark brown spots
Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation
It is the result of minor skin injuries. It can arise due to acne inflammation, psoriasis, eczema and even harsh skin care products.
MelasmaMelasma is the result of an overproduction of melanin by the pigment cells. Usually there is an inherited tendency and it's more common in people with dark skin. It can be triggered by the sun exposure, hormonal changes, pregnancy, Hypothyroidism, and certain medications. For further information about Melasma please visit this link: http://www.dermnetnz.org/colour/melasma.html
Available Pigmentation TreatmentsForemost, it's important to use a good sunscreen, even in cloudy days. No matter what type your pigmentation is, it's likely to get worse with UV exposure.
All types of pigmentation will also benefit from a good skin care regime. Products containing AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids), Retinoids (Vitamin A), Salicylic Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) are specially good at reducing pigmentation and inhibiting the formation of melanin.
Chemical peels and dermabrasion can also help with pigmentation, however caution is needed with these treatments because they are quite harsh on the skin and can cause post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, specially on sensitive skins. It is best to try a gentle peel such as lactic acid, which exfoliates the skin without destroying the live cells barrier.
Lasers and IPL work by burning the top layer of the pigment without affecting the surrounding area. Depending on the depth of the pigment you may need a number of treatments to resolve the condition.
Melasma is the most difficult condition to treat because of the underlying causes:
- If the Melasma is caused by pregnancy it may disappear by itself a few months after childbirth. In any case it cannot effectively be treated during pregnancy.
- If you are on the pill or undergoing hormonal replacement therapy they should be discontinued
- Depending on the depth of the pigment and the colour of your skin it may be possible to treat Melasma with lasers or IPL. These treatments are not suitable for very dark skinned people.