Has it happened to you?You look in the mirror and there’s this….spot on the side of your face. Maybe there’s more than one. Where did it come from and how can you make it go away? Chances are, it’s a form of hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation is quite common and typically harmless. It is simply an increase in melanin production.
Causes of Hyperpigmentation
There are three main types of hyperpigmentation, each of which is categorized by their cause.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). This occurs following skin injury e.g. from acne lesions or laser. PIH generally responds well to treatment.
- Melasma. This is caused by hormonal fluctuations, common, for example, during pregnancy, through use of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy.
- UV Damage. As the body ages, melanocyte distribution becomes less diffuse and its regulation less controlled by the body. UV light stimulates melanocyte activity, and produces hyperpigmentation. People with darker Asian, Arabic or darker skin tones are most prone to this.
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You are not necessarily stuck with these spots. There are many treatments available that can reduce or eliminate the discoloration. A well known home remedy is to apply lemon juice or slices to the affected areas, which can bleach away the spots. While the remedy can help, it can also be harsh on your skin. A better alternative would be to treat with creams containing hydroquinone, alpha hydroxy acids, retinols or vitamin c. To prevent new spots from appearing in the first place, it is important to use sunscreen. Sunscreen will also prevent your existing spots from getting darker.