Going to the beach can be fun, but not for your skin. Excessive exposure to the sun’s rays can cause sun damage such as sunburn, age spots (or liver spots), leathery skin, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.
What Is Hyperpigmentation?
If you notice the presence of gray, brown, or tan patches anywhere on your skin, and they appear mostly after sitting under the sun for too long, you have a condition known as hyperpigmentation.
According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), hyperpigmentation occurs when melanocytes, cells that produce your skin’s color or pigment, produce excessive pigment, causing spots on your skin. It can affect anyone, regardless of skin color and gender.
Aside from exposure to the sun, it is also caused by contact with certain plants or cosmetics, medications, inflammation, physical trauma, and melasma. According to the ASDS, hyperpigmentation can physically, emotionally, and socially affect a person. This makes it important to treat the condition. When treated, it can improve a person’s appearance, self-esteem, and overall skin health.
Often, patients with hyperpigmentation are prescribed a strict skincare regimen by their dermatologist. In some cases, however, no improvement becomes visible despite skincare efforts. If this happens, dermatologists will recommend non-invasive procedures and treatments. Know more about these treatments below.
Skin acids help even out skin tone, making your skin smooth all over. It works by exfoliating the top layer of your skin, allowing new cells to emerge and replace worn-out ones. If you have a fair skin tone and mild hyperpigmentation, this treatment can work for you.
Skin acid can be an at-home treatment using over-the-counter (OTC) skin acid products. Look for vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid), salicylic acid, kojic acid, azelaic acid, and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA). AHAs come in different forms, including tartaric, malic, citric, lactic, and glycolic acids. Make sure to purchase products with 10% acid content for a more effective treatment. You can use higher concentrations, too. However, it must be applied by a professional in a clinic.
Still, if you want a stronger treatment, one that’s more intense than a skin acid treatment with more than 10% acid, then a chemical peel is a better choice for you. Considering this, it requires an in-clinic session.
Just like other treatments that’ll be mentioned here, though, chemical peels remove the epidermis layer of your skin. Instead of using tools, however, it uses stronger chemicals to treat hyperpigmentation. It can also target the dermis layer of your skin if you choose a deeper peel.
Like skin acids, chemical peel products can also be bought OTC. In-clinic sessions are reserved for deeper treatments with stronger acids, producing the quickest and best results.
However, chemical peels can create more damage on your skin if you are exposed to the sun’s rays.
Dermabrasion is a treatment that involves the removal of the epidermis layer of the skin. However, because of its invasive nature, microdermabrasion is a better treatment to recommend against hyperpigmentation.
Microdermabrasion is a similar treatment to dermabrasion. The difference is that it only gets rid of dead or dying skin. Your dermatologist will rapidly but gently swipe a microdermabrasion tool across your skin, often in the face, to remove dead skin.
Considering a tool is used for this type of treatment, it is an in-clinic procedure. To get the best result, though, you need to complete multiple sessions.
Skin resurfacing is a type of in-clinic treatment that uses laser beams to reduce hyperpigmentation. Because of this, it is also known as laser peels.
In skin resurfacing treatment, laser beams are targeted on areas of your skin with hyperpigmentation. You can choose between non-ablative and ablative laser treatments.
Ablative lasers remove layers of your skin, offering more intense treatment as a result. Non-ablative lasers, such as RevLite, are less intense, only targeting the dermis. This encourages your body to produce collagen, one of the main building blocks that keep cells in your body to stick together. Because of this, your skin will have a plump, youthful look.
Prevent Further Sun Damage
Exposure to the sun’s rays doesn’t only result in hyperpigmentation. According to the American Cancer Society, the sun’s rays have ultraviolet (UV) radiation in them, which can be harmful to your overall health. This makes it even more an important reason to protect yourself always against sun damage.
The ASDS recommends using sunscreen at all times, especially if you’ll be spending hours under the sun. Choose sunscreen products with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Look for ingredients such as avobenzone, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, Parsol 1789, and Mexoryl.
Stick to a Healthy Skin Care Routine
Aside from these treatments, make sure to continue taking care of your skin. Follow your dermatologist’s recommendations, more importantly. If you do all of this, you’ll soon be on your way to treating that stubborn hyperpigmentation.