Though sometimes associated with prescription drugs or pregnancy, hyperpigmentation is a skin condition generally caused by over-exposure to the sun. In an effort to protect the body from damage, melanocytes, cells that produce melanin, are released. Blotchy, darker than skin tone spots are the result.
When sun exposure is to blame, two types of ultraviolet rays are responsible: UVA and UVB. Long-wave solar rays (UVA) are typically responsible for sun damage because of their ability to penetrate both the epidermis and dermis. Epidermis-damaging UVB rays are responsible for the red glow of a sun burn.
Over-exposure to the sun damages collagen and elastin. It forces the body to produce metalloproteinase, an enzyme that produces and initiates repair to collagen fibers. Unfortunately, the repair is never exact. The result is wrinkles.
Reversing sun damage is not an easy task. Following proper skin care, recommended by a trained aesthetician using a professional skin care line includes cleanser, toner, moisture, and eye cream. Additionally, skin care protocol includes exfoliation. Exfoliation removes the outer-most layer of skin. Once the outer layer of skin is removed, the body begins to produce new collagen and this will lessen fine lines and wrinkles. This type of home-care is a lifelong prescription to healthy skin. Dermatologists and other highly trained technicians use chemical peels, intense pulsed light (IPL) photo-facials, fractional lasers, and radiofrequency treatments.
Chemical peels may be the first level of treatment. These solutions, in varying strengths, include hydroxyl acids, beta hydroxyl acids, and trichloracetic acids. Chemical peels usually require six treatments over a three month period of time.
IPLs help fight spots and fine lines by targeting abnormal pigmentation. Expect spots from sun damage to become darker before flaking off or gradually disappearing. Three to five treatments, one every three weeks, is usually recommended.
Fractional lasers emit microscopic beams of light energy to aggressively treat sun damage. The generated heat stimulates the production of collagen. This technology is often used on acne scarring, stretch marks and melasma. Three to five treatments are recommended.
Radio-frequency treatments stimulate collagen production by turning light to heat. This technique is generally safe for all skin tones.
The best way to avoid sun damage is to avoid over-exposure to the sun. Pay attention to UV indexes mentioned on the news. Avoid sun exposure between 10am and 4pm and use sunscreens with an SPF of 30.