Pigmentation 101: How to treat the dark spots on your skin

 

Have you noticed unusual dark spots on your face and other parts of your body? These signs may indicate skin pigmentation. Referring to the colouring, or pigment of our skin, pigmentation is produced in cells called melanocytes which produce melanin. Healthy skin is reflected through an even distribution of melanin throughout the face and body. Melanin’s basic function is to protect the skin against UV damage, but when the melanocytes become damaged or unhealthy, it accelerates the production of melanin, causing pigmentation of skin or dark spots in certain areas of the skin.


What are the causes of pigmentation?

Pigmentation may be caused by many internal and external factors. “The most common external factor is damage caused by sun exposure, while internally, pigmentation can be caused primarily due to hormonal changes,” says Dr. Madhuri Agarwal, Mumbai-based dermatologist and founder, Yavana Aesthetics.

Melanin acts as your skin’s natural sunscreen by protecting you from harmful UV rays, which is why people tan in the sun. But excessive sun exposure can disrupt this process, leading to pigmentation. Hormonal influences are the main cause of a particular kind of hyperpigmentation known as melasma or chloasma.

“Hyperpigmentation shows up on your skin as melasma, tan, freckles, acne, dark spots, blemishes, dark circles and discolored patches around the mouth. Certain products and makeup-related allergies can also lead to the same,” says Dr. Agarwal.


Which skin tones are most prone to pigmentation?

Darker skin tones are more prone to pigmentation as the number of skin colour producing cells called melanocytes are larger and more in number.


How to treat pigmentation

A good diet rich in red, yellow and orange-coloured foods helps to clear your skin due to their high antioxidant content. Regular exercise also stands non-negotiable to keep your hormones in check and eventually, treat the same.

You can use a Vitamin C serum in the morning (followed by sunscreen) before sun exposure to treat existing pigmentation. Vitamin C also has an antioxidant effect and helps to reduce any further dark spots and patches. At night, ensure you remove your sunscreen and makeup thoroughly and follow up with a brightening face oil or elixir. 

“Oral sunscreens are growing in popularity with our patients who are looking to treat pigmentation. These are natural extracts that help to prevent and reduce the darkening process triggered by sunlight. Glutathione is another powerful antioxidant that helps to reduce pigmentation and provides an overall lightening effect,” says Dr Agarwal.

“It is advisable to also sign up for regular sessions of dermatological treatments such as  chemical peels, skin brightening lasers and growth factor concentrate at least once a month to treat all types of pigmentation. Skin boosters like Volite and Profhilo are in-clinic procedures that are becoming increasingly popular to treat hyperpigmentation and improve skin rejuvenation. It is recommended to start with them as preventive treatments in your early 30s or as soon as you start seeing the initial signs of hyperpigmentation” adds Dr. Agarwal.


How to prevent pigmentation

Limiting your skin’s exposure to the sun will help to reduce instances of pigmentation. Try to keep out of the sun during its most intense hours in the afternoon and wear protective clothing including hats and sunglasses whenever possible. When skin is exposed to the sun, apply and regularly reapply a sunscreen with a broad spectrum SPF between 30 - 50 in accordance with your skin type.

“The first step is to, at all costs,  avoid the instant brightening creams specially shared by your friendly salon lady, your friends and unqualified doctors. These usually contain potent steroids that may lead to an immediate clearing of pigmentation and fairness of skin but in the long run, will damage your skin to an unbelievable extent. Also, avoid regular bleach and steaming of the face. Stop bursting pimples on your face as well,” suggests Dr. Agarwal.


RAS products to treat pigmentation

The following skincare products by RAS Luxury Oils can help treat dark spots, dullness, an uneven skin tone and all signs of pigmentation.