Hyperpigmentation is a term that describes skin that has become darker. It can appear in small areas or can sometimes affect the whole body. Read on to find out more about hyperpigmentation and what can cause it.
What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation occurs when your body produces an excess amount of melanin, the substance that is responsible for the colour of our skin. ‘Hyper’ means more and ‘pigment’ means colour. It essentially means an increase or change in the colour of the skin.
What does it look like?
Spots or patches that can occur in just one area or sometimes over the whole body. Colour can vary, from tan, brown, red, grey, black to pink.
What can trigger it?
Sun exposure, skin injury and hormonal changes can all lead to an increase in melanin production.
Are there different types of hyperpigmentation?
There are several different kinds:
- Agespots/ Sunspots – These can also be called liver spots.
- Post-inflammatory – A result of damage to the skin, acne for example.
- Melasma – Caused by hormonal changes in the body, more commonly seen in women but can also affect men. This type of hyperpigmentation can be made worse with UV exposure and heat.
What is melanin?
Melanin is produced by skin cells called melanocytes which are found in the deepest part of the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of our skin. Melanin is responsible for giving our hair, eyes and skin its pigmentation and the more melanin that your body produces, the darker your eyes, hair and skin will be. It can also absorb UV rays, helping to protect your cells from damage from the sun.
Tips to reduce the effects of hyperpigmentation
Not all types of hyperpigmentation can be prevented, but sun damage tends to be the main culprit.
Our top sun safe tips:
- Apply SPF daily – This will give your skin the best protection while in the sun. Remember to apply even when cloudy, as the sun’s UV rays can still come through.
- Try and avoid direct sunlight - The sun is at its hottest during the hours of 12pm – 4pm so try to stay in the shade if outdoors during that time, or style it out with a large hat to protect the face!
- Use products high in antioxidants – Antioxidants help to neutralise free radicals (damaging atoms in the air) and will give your skin added protection. Seaweed is packed full of natural antioxidants to offer your skin a shield against external factors and reduce signs of ageing, whilst also providing collagen and hyaluronic acid promoting abilities.
- If you are concerned about hyperpigmentation or any changes to your skin, please consult your GP or a dermatologist.