Hyperpigmentation is one of the biggest concerns I hear about in the treatment room. Hyperpigmentation is a broad term that describes anything from freckles, sun damage, dark spots, sun spots, melasma, photo damage, or anything that causes an unwanted darker pigmentation in the skin. It can appear in the form of spots, speckles, or patches. The most likely culprit of hyperpigmentation is exposure to UVA rays, so prevention is key. Before we get into that, let’s talk about what happens when UVA rays penetrate the skin. UVA rays have a longer wavelength, therefore, they penetrate deeper into the dermis causing damage at that level. As we know, the skin renews itself by sloughing off the outside layer, causing the lower levels to push up, eventually revealing the layers that were damaged. So let’s talk prevention. Stay out of direct sunlight. Wear sunscreen every single day. Incidental skin exposure (walking to the grocery store, driving in the car, taking the trash to the curb, etc.) is highly underestimated. Wearing sunscreen everyday protects against incidental sun damage. Now let’s talk about treatment. Twice daily use of a brightening/lightening serum is a must. Look for ingredients such as kojic acid, bearberry, vitamin C, glycolic acid, and mulberry, to name a few. Another no-brainer is a daily SPF. Chemical peels can help, along with microneedling and green LED. It won’t happen over night, but hyperpigmentation can be lessened with consistency and persistence.
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