Pigmentation in simple terms refers to the colour of a person’s skin. The pigment, Melanin is responsible for this colour and when these cells become damaged or unhealthy, it affects melanin production. Depending on several factors, the skin colour may change to become darker (hyperpigmentation) or lighter (hypopigmentation). Hyperpigmentation is directly linked to the increased levels of hormones in the body which results in an increase in melanin synthesis (dark spots/patches) and vice versa for hypopigmentation (light spots/patches)
Some of the most common causes of pigmentation:
1: Hormone changes (in pregnant women/birth control pills)
2: Sun exposure (due to UVA stimulation of melanocytes which causes an increase in melanin production)
3: Genetics (hereditary gene)
There are many types of pigmentations known but the following are some of the most common. Identifying the type of pigmentation will give you a better understanding of what can be done to lighten/remove these imperfections that causes ageing to occur.
Post Inflammatory Pigmentation (PIH): occurs when the skin experiences trauma/injury which leaves a flat, discoloured area post healing. This commonly affects those who suffer from acne.
Melasma: otherwise known as chloasma or “mask of pregnancy” is as its name suggests, affects mostly pregnant women due to the change in hormones during pregnancy. It can even affect those on birth control pills.
Hori’s Nevus: causes a condition known as dermal melanocytosis as melanocytes are present in the epidermis as well as the dermis unlike normal skin types that only has melanocytes in the epidermis only. The presence of melanin deeper within the skin results in the colour change. Most commonly seen in middle-aged women of Asian descent.
Solar Lentigines – otherwise known as “sun spots”, caused by as the name suggests, frequent sun exposure which causes local proliferation of melanocytes & accumulation of melanin within the skin cells. This commonly affects those over the age of 40, which also gives it another name, “age spots / senile freckles".
Ephelides – known to be an inherited gene, ephelides occur as a result of melanocytes (pigment-forming cells) producing more melanin. The number can increase with frequent exposure to UV rays from sun exposure. It has the ability to fade with the seasons, lighter in winter and darker in summer.