Hyperpigmentation of the skin can occur for several reasons. In pregnancy, it is called Chloasma or ‘mask of pregnancy’. In women taking the contraceptive pill or patch, or taking hormone replacement therapy, it is called melasma. Men can also suffer hyperpigmentation on the forearms and hands.
As with any new change in skin colour, it is important to have a doctor check that it is nothing sinister, and this is easily done with a ‘black light’ or Wood’s lamp ultraviolet light. Once reassured that the hyperpigmentation is benign, some people will live with the difference, but many women find it embarrassing, and will look for treatment.
Treatments available from a dermatologist are:
• Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion (a fine ‘sanding’ effect on the skin).
• Treatment with and intense pulsed light laser or a Frexel laser.
• Glycolic acid chemical peels.
• Alpha hydroxyacid facial peels.
• Topical azelaic acid to decrease melanocyte activity.
• Tretinoin acid to increase skin cell throughput.
• Hydroquinone to inhibit tyrosinase, the enzyme that produces melanin.
Beauty salons can offer:
• Ultrasound facials.
• Galvanic facials.
There are also home remedies:
• Slice carrots and tomatoes and place these on the darkened skin. Lie down for 30 minutes, remove vegetables, and rinse the face with cool milk.
• Vitamin E oil, found in vegetable oils, can be applied topically.
• Very ripe aubergine (eggplant) pulp is another topical treatment.
• Boiled onions, made into a paste, then the juice squeezed out of the paste and added to apple cider vinegar, can be applied to the face.
Other topical applications include:
• Orchid extract (Cymbidium Grandiflorum) mixed with coconut oil.
• Boiled root of Yucca, puréed and applied on the melasma.
• Grape seed oil dabbed on the patches.
• Lemon juice, used neat, can be patted on with cotton wool.
• Black balm (Myroxilon) can be mashed down and applied. It has a scent of vanilla and green olives, and is often used in cosmetics.
If one scans the internet, there are many products on offer that can be used at home.
If hyperpigmentation runs in the family, then one should take precautions to protect the face from the sun, by wearing a sun hat using high SPF (sun protection factor) creams.
In the case of hyperpigmentation in pregnancy, taking the contraceptive pill or taking hormone replacement therapy, once the baby is born, or the woman stops taking hormone treatments, the melasma usually begins to fade, and, so long as protection is continued as above, it is unlikely to recur.
Recent Hyperkeratosis & Hyperpigmentation Articles: