While most women around the world rate wrinkles at the top of their list of skin concerns, in South Africa hyperpigmentation – dark marks that make your complexion look patchy and uneven – is a much greater problem.
In our country, this universal skin offender affects women of all ages and skin tones, largely thanks to the mix of our sunny climate, hormones and genes.
Women who struggle with hyperpigmentation will do almost anything to get rid of the problem, but if you don’t follow the right treatment advice you can actually end up making things worse.
Skin Renewal are dedicated to treating hyperpigmentation safely and effectively. They believe you need to understand what you’re dealing with and take action sooner rather than later.
First, understand this
• There are no instant magic fixes for excess pigmentation. It needs to be treated daily and indefinitely. One accidental sunburn can set you back.
• Don’t delay treatment. The deeper the pigmentation goes (into the dermis), the more difficult and expensive it is to treat.
• Do your homework – understand the causes, what kind of pigmentation you have, your treatment options and how to prevent pigmentation recurring again in future. By the end of this series, you’ll have all the information you need.
• You can’t treat the skin aggressively as this may cause even more pigmentation. This is why it’s important to only use trusted treatments from reputable skin doctors and skin-care therapists, who use safe, tested and approved technology and skin-care brands.
• Follow instructions and complete the treatment. If something feels wrong, speak to your consultant asap.
• Always use sun protection! Make sure it offers broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection and SPF50+.
What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of the skin (basically tanning) as our skin’s protective response to UV exposure, to form a protective “umbrella” over the cells’ DNA.
What most of us understand as hyperpigmentation, however, is when patches or bands of pigment appear on the skin which look different and darker than one’s normal skin tone.
This can range from freckles to dark marks where the skin has been injured – from acne and other scarring, for example. And then there’s hormonal pigmentation, which can appear during pregnancy, when you’re on the Pill, if you have a hormonal imbalance, or during menopause.
For this reason, hyperpigmentation can affect women of all skin tones and ages, and it is particularly common among women with darker complexions because of high levels of dark pigment (melanin) in their skin.
What causes dark marks?
The factors above can cause increased pigmentation in the skin’s superficial layers (epidermis) and deeper layers (dermis).
They can trigger an increase in the amount of melanin produced by the melanocytes (pigment producing cells) in the skin. UV exposure, an injury or hormones can trigger an inflammatory response in the skin, which triggers the melanocytes to produce more melanin as a protective measure. It’s when this system goes wrong that we get the patches or bands of darker pigment that cause us so much distress.
Read our next feature, which will explain the different types of pigmentation, and how they need to be treated.
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