Hyperpigmentation and Dark Spots - What to Do

Choosing the Right Regimen for 
An Uneven Complexion and Dark Spots

African American and other individuals with skin of color are prone to blotchy skin and dark spots caused by hyperpigmentation oftentimes feel self-conscious about their appearance.   

Due to a variety of causes, the natural increase in melanin pigment present in skin of color spills out of the storage cells like puddles of ink becoming deposited below the surface which show up as dark spots and blotchy patches when viewed from the outside.

Blotchy skin is a common problem that can often seem to appear out of nowhere. There are many causes of skin discoloration and texture problems. Some of the most common issues include:

  • Melasma – blotchy brown patches induced by sunlight and hormonal factors
  • Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation due to acne and a variety of other skin condition

Less common causes of skin darkening and discoloration in African Americans include:

  • Reactions to sunlight triggered by heart and blood pressure medications such as the beta blocker diltiazem
  • Medical conditions associated with skin discoloration such as discoid lupus
  • The hair loss condition “Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia” with regression of the frontal hair line is frequently associated with darkening of the face, neck and ears.

DISCOLORATION DUE TO MELASMA

DISCOLORATION DUE TO BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATION

DISCOLORATION DUE TO FACIAL HAIR BUMPS

DISCOLORATION DUE TO BREAKOUTS AND PICKING

 

Most individuals with skin discoloration usually want treatment to get the dark spots to go away.

However, the first step must be to treat the condition that causes the uneven complexion.

  • If acne is the problem, the breakouts must be controlled first.
  • If allergies are eczema are part of the problem; that condition must be handled first.
  • If hair bumps and shaving inflammation are causing the problem then those conditions must be

Many products and ingredients are available on the market to treat hyperpigmentation including:

  • hydroquinone,
  • kojic acid,
  • vitamin C,
  • azelaic acid,
  • tranxenamic acid
  • and more.

Also, formulations containing herbal ingredients as well as non-medicinal products such as shea butter, cocoa butter, black soap and others are used by many who swear by their effectiveness so at times it can be hard to know what to use for treatment.

A good approach to take is to use a product that your skin tolerates well without any itching or irritation and give it at least 2 months to see if you notice improvement. If you see progress, then continue to use if for at least 3-4 months to get maximal results.

If a product doesn’t work at all in 2 months then it might be best to change to a different active ingredient or blend more than one ingredient together. Sometimes a combination approach will work better than either individual ingredient alone.

It the discoloration persists for months or years or does not improve with using over the counter products then it can be useful to seek professional medical help.

Additional medications available by prescription or treatments such as chemical peels can be obtained from dermatologists to treat hyperpigmentation so when the need arises and if over the counter products don’t work then this could be a good choice to make.

Since melanin pigment production is stimulated by sunlight, the usage of sunscreen is a necessary part of any treatment undertaken to correct skin discoloration. UVA rays are the part of sunlight that stimulates pigment production so sunscreens that block UVA light are best to protect against darkening of the skin.

Disclaimer:

The content provided in this article is for information purposes only and does not establish a patient-physician relationship. A patient-physician relationship can only be established by a face to face visit where a medical history and physical examination are performed. You must seek out the counsel of a medical professional to know what care is needed for your individual concerns.

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