Have you noticed your skin’s complexion has been dull lately? Does it look like your skin tone is uneven and lifeless? Are there dark spots that scatter at some parts of your face? If you answered YES to all three questions, then what you have is surely signs of skin ageing! No one is exempt from dreaded ageing skin. Each person deals with a different kind, one of which is what we call pigmentation. Pigmentation can be caused by too much exposure to the sun or from injuries, while others can be from hormonal changes caused by pregnancy. Let us find out in this article what pigmentation treatments are in store for you.
What is Pigmentation?
Pigmentation refers to the colouring of the person’s skin. As we age, there are patches of colour that appear in our skin, it is either darker or lighter than normal. If there are patches on the skin that becomes darker than its surrounding areas, it is called hyperpigmentation. Hypopigmentation, the opposite of hyperpigmentation, happens when patches of skin become lighter than its surrounding areas.
Here are the common types of Pigmentation, according to MY Medical Aesthetics:
- Freckles – these are tiny brown spots mostly seen on the cheeks and nose. They often appear in childhood and keep on multiplying until adulthood. It can be caused by too much exposure to the sun or it may run in the family.
- Melasma – also known as the “mask of pregnancy.” This is the skin problem that is most resistant to skin treatments. Melasma can be identified by light or dark brown patches on the skin. This mostly affects the skin of middle-aged women as a result of too much exposure to sunlight. It is also known to be genetically acquired.
- Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation – these are discoloured patches on the face mostly found in individuals with dark colour skin tone. It can be caused by improper use of cosmetics, skin infections, and inflammation.
- Pigmentation bumps – these are light brown spots on the face often mistaken to be moles. Pigmentation bumps are elevated in the face and affect older people.
- Solar Lentigo – these are also known as sun-spots. They can appear on any part of the body that gets too much exposure in the sunlight. They are round in shape and mostly seen in the 30 to 50 age group.
- Hori’s Nevus – these are dark bluish-grey birthmark, of which origin is unknown. These often appear on the skin of women, especially in the areas of the cheeks, forehead, or nose.
Most types of skin pigmentation look similar. It is very difficult to identify which kind they are if you are not a skin expert. You have to seek help from a doctor or an expert if you want to have the right treatment. Cosmetic doctors are best to assess what type of skin pigmentation you have and the most effective treatment for it. Do not try to self-diagnose as doing this might only worsen your skin problem. Always consult your doctor before applying any pigmentation cream to avoid irritation or complications.
Laser Treatments or Over-the-Counter Pigmentation Creams?
Which do you think is more effective? Laser treatments or over-the-counter pigmentation creams?
Over-the-counter pigmentation creams are cheaper compared to laser treatments, yet they have a lot of limitations. They can probably help prevent the pigmentation from increasing, but there is not much evidence that they are effective when it comes to effectively treating skin pigmentation.
On the other hand, laser treatments can treat stubborn skin pigmentation that creams alone cannot banish. Lasers are able to deliver effective and faster results.
Different Types of Skin Pigmentation Treatments and How They Work
Treatments for Freckles and Solar Lentigos
The recommended treatment for freckles and solar lentigos are Pico Lasers and Q-switched Lasers. These lasers work by releasing beams of high-intensity lights that target the pigmentation problems in your skin. Patients can expect that the treated area will scab and the treated skin will naturally fall off within a week. Daily application of sunscreen can be a big help to prevent the growth of more freckles.
Intense pulsed light treatment is also advised for freckles and solar lentigos. It has similar effects as Pico Lasers and Q-switched can deliver, but the cost is much cheaper. This treatment is only for freckles and solar lentigos, so make sure to consult your doctor before undergoing this treatment.
Laser treatments are a little costly; if you want to save, you can opt for topical treatments. Hydroquinone topical can also treat freckles and solar lentigos. Again, consult your doctor first to avoid complications.
Treatments for Melasma
Melasma can be treated by medical-grade creams. These are the type of creams that can only be bought if you have a doctor’s prescription. The main ingredient of these medical-grade creams is hydroquinone and tretinoin. These active ingredients work to lighten melasma within 2 to 3 months. Patients are to expect redness and itching after using these types of creams.
For severe cases of melasma, laser treatments and chemical peels are advised. Oral medication of tranexamic may also be recommended.
Treatments for Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation and melasma have the same type of treatments. Oral medications, chemical peels, topical creams, and laser treatments are the type of treatments you can choose from. These treatments are quite similar, so the effectivity of the treatment lies in your doctor’s hands.
Treatments for Pigmentation bumps
Electrocautery or ablative laser surgery is recommended for removing pigmentation bumps. These treatments require 2 sessions only and will take 10 to 20 minutes per session. Don’t worry, both treatments are painless. The doctor will apply numbing cream before the procedure to lessen discomfort.
Treatments for Hori’s Nevus
Hori’s Nevus is considered to be most resistant to treatments. Topical creams cannot treat this type of pigmentation. Laser treatments are recommended because Hori’s Nevus leaves deep pigmentation on the skin. Several session is needed to see improvements on skin.
What to expect after a pigmentation treatment?
The improvements depend on the severity of the pigmentation as well as the skin’s response to the treatment. Normally, an improvement of about 50% can be seen after several sessions of pigmentation treatment. For best results, follow your doctor’s post-treatment care instructions. Also, make sure to protect your skin from too much exposure to sunlight to prevent pigmentation from worsening.
Things to remember before deciding to get a pigmentation treatment:
- The doctor must be expert in skin pigmentation treatments
- Be physically and financially prepared
- Choose the right clinic
- Prepare to put in lots of patience and practice discipline in following your doctor’s post-care advice