In this era of pollution, everyone has to take extra care of their skin to avoid skin-related problems, like hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation causes certain body parts to appear darker than the rest. Therefore, people often ask why my face skin is darker than my body?
Hyperpigmentation is not a condition but a term that describes skin that appears darker. It can:
- Occur in small patches
- Cover large areas, or
- Affect the entire body
It is not really harmful, but sometimes, it can be a symptom of some underlying medical condition.
Types of Hyperpigmentation
There are several types of hyperpigmentation, including:
Melasma is caused by hormonal changes and may develop during pregnancy. Hyperpigmentation can emerge on any body area, but it commonly occurs on the stomach and face.
They are also called liver spots or solar lentigines. Sunspots are common, related to excess sun exposure over time. Usually, they occur as spots on areas exposed to the sun, such as the hands and face.
3- Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
It is a result of injury or inflammation to the skin. Acne is a common cause of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Symptoms and Risk Factors
Blackened areas on the skin are the main signs of hyperpigmentation. Patches can vary in size and form anywhere on the body.
The most significant risk factors for general hyperpigmentation are sun exposure and inflammation, and both conditions can increase melanin growth. The longer your exposure to the sun, the greater your risk of increased skin pigmentation.
Other risk factors for hyperpigmented patches may include:
- Oral contraceptive use or pregnancy, as seen with melasma
- Darker skin type, which is more prone to pigmentation changes
- Drugs that increase your sensitivity to the sunlight
- Trauma to the skin, such as a wound or superficial burn injury
Causes of Hyperpigmentation
A common ground of hyperpigmentation is an excess production of melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its color, built by skin cells called melanocytes. Several different conditions or factors can modify melanin production in your body.
Specific medications can provoke hyperpigmentation. Furthermore, some chemotherapy drugs can compel hyperpigmentation as a side effect. Moreover, pregnancy changes hormone levels and can influence melanin production in some women.
Likewise, a rare endocrine disorder called Addison’s disease can build hyperpigmentation that is most prominent in areas of sun exposure, such as the face, neck, and hands, and areas exposed to friction, such as elbows and knees.
Hyperpigmentation directly results from a rising hormone level in your body that results in increased melanin synthesis. Moreover, excessive sun exposure can also cause an increase in melanin.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Hyperpigmentation
A dermatologist can analyze the cause of your hyperpigmentation. They will ask about your medical history and give you a physical exam to determine the cause. Sometimes, a skin biopsy can also help narrow down the reason.
Topical prescription medication can treat some cases of hyperpigmentation. This medication contains hydroquinone, which lightens the skin.
However, you need to be vigilant in the usage as prolonged use of topical hydroquinone can cause skin darkening, known as ochronosis. Thus, it is best to use topical hydroquinone only under the care of a dermatologist so that they can correctly instruct you on how to use the prescription without any adverse effects. Likewise, using topical retinoids also helps lighten dark spots of the skin. However, these medications can take a few months to provide the needed results.
Home care sometimes includes OTC medications to lighten dark spots, but these medications do not contain as much hydroquinone as prescription medications.
Home care also includes using sunscreen, as it is the most critical factor in improving most causes of hyperpigmentation.
Follow these instructions for sunscreen:
Use sunscreen daily.
- Reapply it every 2 hours if you are out in the sun — more frequently if you’re sweating or swimming.
- Use sunscreen with SPF 50 or more.
In some skin disorders, visible light may play a role in perpetuating hyperpigmentation, such as in melasma.
In that case, use a mineral sunscreen with iron oxide, blocking some visible light. You should use it daily and wear sun-protective clothing that is SPF-infused.
Your doctor may also recommend laser treatment or chemical peels for reducing hyperpigmentation, depending on the cause of your hyperpigmentation.
Prevention of Hyperpigmentation
It is challenging to prevent hyperpigmentation. However, you can protect yourself by:
- Using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30
- Wearing hats or clothing that block sunlight
- Avoid the sun during the day when it is strongest, typically 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Avoiding certain drugs may also help prevent hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is not generally harmful and is not a sign of a severe medical condition.
In some cases, dark areas will fade on their own with good sun protection, but more aggressive treatment is needed for other cases. However, there is no assurance that the dark spots will disappear altogether, even with treatment. It would be best to contact professionals before you opt for any treatment yourself. You can book an appointment with the best Dermatologists in Islamabad through Marham.