August 8, 2019 6:00 am

Dark patches on your skin? It could be a sign of hyperpigmentation

How to treat hyperpigmentation

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If you’ve ever noticed patches of brown or dark-coloured pigments on the skin, it’s probably a sign of hyperpigmentation.

Dermatologist Dr. Julia Carroll of Compass Dermatology in Toronto told Global News hyperpigmentation is often triggered by exposure to the sun.

She added it is more common for people with darker skin tones.

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Age spots are one of the most common types of hyperpigmentation, according to Healthline.

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“Hyperpigmentation is usually harmless but can sometimes be caused by an underlying medical condition. Certain medications can also cause your skin to darken. It’s more of a cosmetic issue for most people,” the site said.

Treating hyperpigmentation

Carroll said the best way to prevent hyperpigmentation is to practise sun safety.

“The easiest first step is to protect yourself from the sun with sun avoidance, hats and sunscreen,” she said. “Then look to hyperpigment-specific products with ingredients such as low dose hydroquinone, kojic acid or topical tranexamic acid.”

She said if these don’t improve the condition, you can also seek the expertise of a cosmetic dermatologist. A dermatologist can offer prescription products, laser treatments and peels to help with hyperpigmentation.

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If you already have hyperpigmentation, Carroll said you should also avoid overly aggressive or irritating products.

“It may cause your body to produce more pigmentation,” she explained. “Be cautious with laser unless you are under the supervision of a board-certified dermatologist as you could make the condition worse.”

Healthline added that some people also swear by natural remedies, but experts warn you should always consult with a doctor before trying treatments on your skin.

A popular at-home remedy is using apple cider vinegar. One 2016 study concluded that the acetic acid in the vinegar acted as a mild chemical peel. However, authors noted it was not conclusive that this treatment worked for everyone.

“Complementary and alternative medicine methods widely used within the society should be tested in new scientific studies to prove their effectiveness and evaluate the outcomes of their use alongside medical treatment, which would also provide foresight and contribution to integrative medicine practitioners,” authors added.

Carroll said a doctor should intervene if your patches appear suddenly or get worse.

“Also, if the hyperpigmentation is a new or changing mole you should have it checked by a board-certified dermatologist to ensure it is not a skin cancer.”

What is melasma?

According to Allure, melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation that is triggered by sun exposure and hormonal influences.

“Hormonal influences play a significant role here, as seen by the increased prevalence of pregnancy, oral contraceptive use, and other hormonal therapies,” Adam Friedman, an associate professor of dermatology at George Washington University told the site.

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“The problem is preventing its worsening, especially from the hormonal angle, as it can be hard to remove the instigating factors.”

Experts added melasma also looks different than typical hyperpigmentation. It is usually blotchy and appears on the cheeks, bridge of nose, chin, forehead and upper lip.

arti.patel@globalnews.ca

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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