Skin Pigmentation

Types of Skin Pigmentation

Freckles, age spots, sun spots, hyperpigmentation, melasma, liver spots or plain pigmentation: whichever type it may be, irregular skin discolouration is a common and distressing problem caused and increased by factors such as:

Sun damage

Some inflammatory skin disorders

Hormonal fluctuations.

Genetics

Pigmentation has various forms and affects more than 65 percent of individuals 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. The cause of pigmentation can vary from patient to patient; however, they are more often than not caused by excessive production of melanin in the skin. Melanin gives skin its colour, and an extreme concentration of it in one area will invariably lead to some discolouration.

Common types of pigmentation

Age Spots/Liver Spots/Sun Spots/Solar Lentigines

Age spots or liver spots are a common form of hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage and are referred to by medical professionals as solar lentigines. They are usually found on the hands and face or other areas frequently exposed to the sun and will most likely increase with age. Age spots can vary in colour from brown to grey to black. They can also be very small or quite large and often appear in groups or clusters. They are common on people with fair skin who don't have as much natural protection from the sun. They are known as age spots because the melanin accumulating in your skin over the years as you age can make you more susceptible to them, but these pigmentation marks are not exclusively caused by ageing. Although they are also sometimes known as liver spots, this has nothing to do with the liver or anything associated with the function of the liver.

Recommended treatments

Melasma/Chloasma

Melasma or chloasma is a pigmentation that is deeper in the skin's dermis. It appears on the face as larger brown patches with a non-distinct border. Melasma is thought to be caused by increasing levels of both oestrogen and progesterone, which stimulate melanocytes, resulting in increased average tanning protective chemical production. Melasma or chloasma spots are similar in appearance to age spots but are more significant areas of darkened skin. The condition is also known as a 'pregnancy mask' because of its prominence in pregnant women and its appearance as 'mask like' patches on the face. Melasma is usually found on the cheeks, temples and forehead but can also be found on the body. Melasma is aggravated by exposure to the sun.

Recommended treatments

Freckles

The most common type of pigmentation is ephelides or freckles. Freckles are tiny brown spots that can appear anywhere on the face and body. Freckles are an inherited characteristic and are most common in fair-skinned people. Millions of people worldwide have freckles and are less likely to seek cosmetic treatment for them than those who have other forms of pigmentation as they often regarded as a mark of beauty. However, people with freckles can be susceptible to different skin pigmentation conditions, such as spots, when exposed to the sun and the prevalence of freckles also increases with sun exposure.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Post-inflammatory erythema (PIE)

Both happen as the result of inflammation, and often occur post acne or from trauma or irritation to the skin.

PIH is a melanin response that leaves a dark mark on the skin

• PIH can happen when spots are irritated by picking or squeezing.
• PIH can result from an injury to the skin from a scratch, heat, UV exposure, or chemical burn.
• PIH tends to be more common in darker skin tones because of the abundance of melanin.

PIE appears as pink or red marks on the surface of the skin

• PIE is a vascular response to inflammation or irritation. Capillaries just under the skin's surface are stimulated by the inflammation creating a surge of blood in the area as a healing mechanism.
• Like PIH, PIE is caused by picking at pimples, UV exposure, chemicals, injury, or irritation.
• PIE is more common in lighter skin tones. The lighter the skin tone, the longer the marks will remain. In most cases, neither PIH nor PIE is permanent, but fading them takes time, patience, SPF and a good consistent skincare regime in both cases.

Recommended treatments

Healthy Skin

Skin is the barrier that segregates the body from the outer environment.

It protects the body from water loss and microorganism infection. When healthy, the skin is typically:

  • Smooth
  • Firm
  • Evenly toned
  • Hydrated

Maintaining Healthy Skin

Healthy skin can be maintained through the use of:

  • Antioxidants – which defend against free radicals and enhance the protection of your SPF
  • SPF – broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection daily
  • Retinoids – which increase cell turnover, unclog pores, even out skin tone and reduce fine lines and wrinkles

To discuss a specific concern or multiple treatment areas please contact us on info@thenorwichfaceandbodyclinic.co.uk to arrange a personalised email, telephone or virtual consultation. This will allow one of our specialists to discuss your individual needs in confidence and provide you with a precise quote.