Pigmentation essentially indicates areas of the skin that have become darker in colour than the surrounding skin, often resulting in a patchy or uneven appearance . Babies are seldom born with uneven pigmentation (even so-called birthmarks usually appear sometime after birth). If you look at babies and small children you will see that one of the features of youth is clear skin, free from freckles and free from patches of uneven colour.
As soon as we are exposed to sunshine, we begin to see the emergence of freckles and a darkening of the skin (a sun tan). By the time we are teenagers, the average Australia has already experienced a high degree of sun exposure and from the age of 25 onward our skin begins to age faster, revealing underlying pigmentation and discolouration.
Any condition that causes inflammation of the skin (such as acne, boils or burns) can also cause over activity in melanocytes and increase in pigment levels. Treatments for pigmentation must therefore be tailored to the individual and take into account your skin ethnicity, the cause of the pigmentation and your desired outcome.
What causes pigmentation?
Pigmentation can manifest in a number of ways including freckles and sunspots, melasma or chloasma, seborrheric keratosis and birthmarks (usually flat, pigmented patches of varying size). It can be made worse by the use of inappropriate products on the skin (such as alcohol in fragrances) and continuing sun exposure and heat trauma. While skin discolouration tends to increase as we get older, it is governed by a number of factors including:
- Skin type
- Sun exposure
- Injury to the skin (including burns and post-treatment inflammation)
- Hormone imbalances
- Some illnesses and medications
Types of pigmentation
There are two types of pigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is darker in appearance to the rest of the skin on the face/body, whereas Hypopigmentation is whiter/paler than the rest of the skin.
Hyperpigmentation occurs when the melanocytes in the deeper layers of the skin produce a skin-darkening pigment known as melanin. If melanin is over-produced, it may result in darker skin patches appearing on the skin’s surface. Hypopigmentation in skin is the result of loss of melanin production.
Hypopigmentation can include Vitiligo, Albinism and can also be the result of injury to the skin.
Treatment for pigmentation
At Australian Skin Clinics, we have a range of treatment options for hyperpigmentation. Darker skin types are notoriously more difficult to treat and some products and treatments should never be applied to darker skin types. At Australian Skin Clinics we have significant experience in the treatment of all skin types to ensure a safe and effective treatment for pigmentation.
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