Help for Hyperpigmentaion

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If you’re someone who has suffered with dark spots, pigmentation and uneven skin tone for years, it’s finally time to take control and banish them for good. With today’s arsenal of lotions, potions, esthetic treatment peels, and lasers, there’s tons of treatments options for every budget and lifestyle.

First let’s talk about the types of hyperpigmentation and how it’s caused.

There are three main types of hyperpigmentation, each of which is categorized by their cause.

*Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). This occurs following skin injury from acne lesions, psoriasis, burnsIt begins to fade as the skin regenerates itself—a process that can take months or more. On the positive side, PIH generally responds well to treatment.
*Lentigines. These are commonly known as liver spots or age spots. Although they do become more prevalent with age—they are found on 90% of light-skinned individuals over the age of 601—they are not directly caused by the aging process. Rather, lentigines are related to UV exposure.
*Melasma. This is caused by hormonal fluctuations, common, for example, during pregnancy, with thyroid dysfunction, and through use of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. It affects an estimated five to six million women in the United States alone and can often be difficult to treat.

Although not considered a main cause, certain illnesses, as well as the use of certain prescription medications, may cause hyper-pigmentation.

*UV exposure. Questions surrounding these topics may pinpoint UV exposure as a cause of hyperpigmentation, while determining if the skin care professional should be on the lookout for signs of melanoma.

Use of tanning beds and unprotected UV exposure
Frequency of sunscreen usage
Likelihood of burning when exposed to the sun

Now let’s look at the best ways to treat these conditions.

*topicals medications/creams
Hydroquinone. 2%-4% This is frequently referred to as the gold standard for hyperpigmentation and with good reason: It has been used for more than 50 years and is the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved product for skin lightening. It is often formulated with antioxidants, retinoids and hydroxy acids to improve results. Unfortunately, it can be irritating to certain individuals and may cause serious reactions when used in high concentrations.

Azelaic acid. This was developed for the treatment of acne. However, it has proven to be beneficial in the treatment of hyperpigmentation, especially PIH from acne lesions. In one study, it demonstrated results similar to 4% hydroquinone, but without its side effects.

Kojic acid. This is a naturally occurring derivative of certain fungal species that features an efficacy similar to hydroquinone. In fact, hydroquinone and glycolic acid can produce better results when kojic acid is added to the formulation.

Mandelic acid. This AHA is derived from almonds and is used in the treatment of several skin conditions, including all types of hyperpigmentation. It is often combined with salicylic acid and administered as a peel, in which case it has fewer side effects than a glycolic peel and has demonstrated better efficacy.
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Another great treatment option for hyperpigmentation are laser treatments. Lasers such as the Ruby and Q-switched ND:YAG reach the dark spots deep in the skin, converting light to heat, and literally blow up dark spots which then flake off the skin. Though the procedure only takes a few minutes redness and scabbing can occur; recovery time is about a week. At about $700 per treatment and you typically will need more than one.
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Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments or photo facials can also help hyperpigmentation with no downtime and a week of what is called “peppering” may occur. At about $150-200 per treatment recommended in 3-6 treatments 3weeks apart.

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Prevention is key

With all clients, especially those undergoing treatment for hyperpigmentation, preventive measures are vital. The necessity of daily sunscreen application cannot be emphasized enough. Too often, clients are the cause of recurrent hyperpigmentation due to a nonchalant attitude toward sun exposure. Listen to your skin care therapist!!

Following treatment for hyperpigmentation, a more focused approach to daily skin care should be implemented. Clients can much better maintain the positive effects of treatment through the use of professional skin care product lines that include proven active ingredients coupled with effective delivery systems. As is recommended for all individuals, a regimen involving four steps—cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize and protect—should be standard.

Cheers!
Shelly

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