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What is pigmentation and its various treatments

Pigmentation basically refers to the colouring of the skin. Various disorders of skin pigmentation lead to reduced or overproduction of melanin. Melanin is the chief pigment responsible for pigmentation of the skin and thus maintains the various skin tones, skin color and skin types.

What is pigmentation?

Pigmentation meaning is colouring of skin, hair, mucous membranes and retina of the eye. It occurs because of a specialized pigment called melanin which is produced by cells called melanocytes. Thus, when these cells get damaged or unhealthy, the synthesis of the pigment is affected and various skin disorders may occur.

If the body produces high quantities of melanin then, it may lead to darkening of the skin, also known as hyperpigmentation.

If the body produces very little or no amount of melanin, then it may lead to the lightening of the skin.

What causes pigmentation?

Melanin, a pigment present in our skin, is essential for providing colour to our skin and is the main cause behind pigmentation. It is produced by skin cells called melanocytes. There are various factors and conditions which can alter the secretion of melanin. 

The main reason behind hyperpigmentation is the overproduction of melanin. There are certain medications which can lead to hyperpigmentation and some chemotherapy drugs which may lead to it. Even pregnancy may lead to an increase in melanin production in females.

A rare endocrine disorder called Addison's disease can produce hyperpigmentation which occurs at the areas of sun exposure like face, neck and hands. Excessive sun exposure and harmful UV rays can even lead to hyperpigmentation.

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There are various forms of hyperpigmentation like melasma, sunspots and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

In some cases low levels of melanin are even produced, this leads to a lightening of the skin. Vitiligo and albinism are some kinds of diseases which are associated with low levels of melanin production.

Pigmentation treatments

Only a dermatologist can determine the root cause behind disorders related to the abnormal synthesis of melanin.

Chemical methods

There are various dermatological treatments like chemical peelers and laser treatment which can be used to treat pigmentation on face, neck and hands. Chemical peels and laser therapies involve exfoliating the skin and stimulate the synthesis of new cells and revealing new skin.

Dermatologists even recommend the use of hydroquinone which is still regarded as the most effective topical agent to treat hyperpigmentation. But its use should be limited because excessive use of it may lead to irritation and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Natural methods

Apart from various chemical methods, there are some natural home remedies too, which can treat disorders related to skin.

  • Aloe vera gel contains aloin which is a natural depigmenting compound, that lightens the skin work efficiently in treating dark spots and age spots.
  • Liquorice extracts contain active ingredients which when applied on pigmented areas are highly beneficial for reducing the amount of pigmentation and lightening of the skin. Various topical creams are present which contain liquorice extracts and are used for treating disorders. Licorice powder is also highly beneficial for treating skin-related disorders.
  • Green tea extracts may have a depigmenting effect when applied to our skin. Washing your face with lukewarm water and green tea extracts proves to be highly beneficial for our skin.

Products available for the treatment of pigmentation

There are various products available in the market which are useful for treating problems related to pigmentation.

Skin lightening creams help in inhibiting enzymes responsible for melanin synthesis. There are various anti-pigmentation creams for the face which  helps to lighten the skin tone and stimulates the synthesis of new cells, which cleans the skin tone and brings back the smoothness.

Vitamin C serum work on uneven skin tones and pigmentation and help in rejuvenating the dull and lifeless skin. It fades age spots, dark spots, and brightens skin.

There are some lotions and face washes available in the market which helps in cleansing and removing the dead and dark-spotted cells. Thus it has a role in treating skin related problems.

Your dermatologist only can determine the root cause behind your hyperpigmented skin and recommend the best solution to it. Though it is not a very serious disorder and is not related to any serious complication, proper treatment is necessary. 

Make sure you seek proper medical advice before undergoing any sort of natural or chemical treatment.

FAQ’s

1. How to remove pigmentation?

We can remove it by both chemical and natural methods. The use of chemical methods require medical advice but natural methods and home remedies are highly advantageous, effective and cost-effective.

2. Why does pigmentation occur on the face?

A common cause of pigmentation on the face is excessive secretion of melanin by the cells called melanocytes, which may be due to pregnancy, sun damage or rise in hormonal levels. However, hyperpigmentation is not a sign of any serious medical condition.

3. What is the best treatment for pigmentation?

It is said that for treatment of hyperpigmentation, lower energy lasers, gentle chemical peels and micro-needling together are best for getting rid of darker skin and dark spots. Apart from these chemical methods, some home remedies like the use of green tea and licorice extracts are even highly beneficial for reducing pigmentation.

4. Can pigmentation be removed?

Yes, pigmentation can be removed by both natural and chemical methods. Natural methods though take time but are highly beneficial and cheap whereas chemical methods are expensive and have some disadvantages. Laser treatments are considered to be the best and remove the unwanted spots and pigmented skin.

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