Dermatologist reveals how to remove pigmentation from your face

Pigmentation is of two types - hyperpigmentation (aka when the spots or patches on your skin are darker than your skin) or hypopigmentation (aka when the spots or patches on your skin are lighter than your skin).

Updated on Jun 24, 2022 03:46 PM IST  |  206.3K
Dr Manasi Shirolikar, a Consultant Dermatologist says that the three common types of facial pigmentation
Dermatologist reveals how to remove pigmentation from your face
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When a patch or spot on your skin is either lighter or darker than your overall skin tone, it is called pigmentation. Pigmentation is of two types - hyperpigmentation (aka when the spots or patches on your skin are darker than your skin) or hypopigmentation (aka when the spots or patches on your skin are lighter than your skin).

Hyperpigmentation is predominant when it comes to our facial skin. Decoding the type of pigmentation you have is quite essential, to effectively treat the area. Dr Manasi Shirolikar, a Consultant Dermatologist says that the three common types of facial pigmentation, most often seen on Indian skin are:

1. Tanning

2. PIH (Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation)

3. Melasma

Tanning

Tanning is the skin’s response to damage by the UVA and UVB sun rays. UVA rays cause darkening or pigmentation that lasts only for a couple of days, whereas UVB rays cause pigmentation that can last for months. In the case of tanning, your overall face and skin can get tanned, as opposed to just patches. 

Detans are extremely popular in the country, to remove the pigmentation caused due to tanning. However, from a dermatologist’s POV, to deal with tanning, I would recommend you:

- Nourish the already damaged skin with a lot of moisturisers and sunscreens

- Use moisturisers containing anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E 

- Use an exfoliating moisturiser made with a gentle exfoliant like Lactic Acid

- Use Vitamin C-based products

- Use Tranexamic Acid based products

- Use Alpha Arbutin-based products

- Use Azelaic Acid based products

- Use Kojic Acid based products

- Use Licorice based products

- Use Glycolic Acid based products

- Exfoliate your face with an AHA (do not go above 15%) once a week

Tanning

PIH

PIH is pigmentation that occurs post-infection or injury to the skin. It occurs when the skin ends up producing extra melanin due to the infection or the injury.

The most common PIH seen on the face is post-acne hyperpigmentation, also more popularly known as dark spots or acne marks. 

When it comes to PIH, especially that caused by acne, it is important to get the active acne under control with the help of ingredients such as salicylic acid. Treating PIH while also having breakouts on your face will mean you are just beating around the bush and will end up damaging your skin’s barrier. What’s more, you will end up treating neither your active acne nor your pigmentation. 

Once your acne is under control and all that is left behind is PIH, you can use OTC topical medications, serums or creams to treat it. The ingredients to look out for, to help you treat your PIH include:

- Azelaic Acid

- Retinoids

- AHAs like glycolic acid 

- Vitamin C

- Tranexamic Acid

- Alpha Arbutin

PIH

Melasma

Melasma is an extremely common condition seen among Indians. Melasma is predominantly seen as dark patches on the cheekbones, and sometimes, on the forehead as well as jawline. It occurs due to an overproduction of the number of melanocytes (pigmentation cells) as well as due to an increase in melanin (the actual pigment that gives colour to our skin, hair and eyes). Often confused to be freckles, they’re brown or blue-grey patches on your skin, and starkly different from freckles or even sun spots, which they are also mistaken for.

Melasma frequently occurs due to increased UV exposure, but sometimes can be due to genetic predispositions, an imbalance of hormones or due to the side effects of certain medications. It is also more commonly seen in women, than in men.

Unfortunately, Melasma is quite resistant to treatment. It can be treated, but it takes its own sweet time, as well as patience to get better. 

To treat Melasma, you can opt for the following:

- Sun protection like a good sunscreen, with a minimum of SPF 30, and even physical protection such as hats, caps and scarves to protect the area from further UV exposure

- AHAs like Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid

- Retinoids

- Tranexamic Acid

- Vitamin C

- Alpha Arbutin

- Hydroquinone (only under a dermatologist’s prescription and treatment)

- Anti-Oxidants like Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid

Melasma

Pigmentation is quite common and easy to deal with. In any and every case of hyperpigmentation, sun protection is a must! That is the best way to prevent damage to your skin.

However, in some rare and stubborn cases, pigmentation persists and gets difficult to treat. It would then be advisable to consult a dermatologist, who can give you a personalised recommendation, after understanding your skin.

Also Read: World Music Day: Uncover ways in which music can be therapeutic for your soul

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