Friday, September 12, 2014

Hyperpigmentation: A few Q & As

I have a problem with a pigmentation spot on my face that will not go away. I’ve had it since childhood and have tried everything to get rid of it—hydroquinone, Retin-A, AHAs, everything, but with no success. I assume the spot is caused by sun exposure. It looks very much like the age spots older people get. I have extremely fair skin, so sun damage really shows up on my skin. What would you recommend?

Your dermatologist may be able to remove the spot with a laser; you’ll have to go have a consultation and see what your options are. But keep in mind, any amount of sun you receive will increase the pigmentation—the darkness of spots. So the best preventative measure would be to always have your spot covered, even if it is simply by your hand as you are walking to and from the car. And definitely wear hats and use sunscreen when you are outside for any length of time.

Is the spot located in a place where sun easily gets to it when you are driving a car or even sitting in the passenger seat a lot? This is a common occurrence and means every time you drive or sit in the car, the spot is going to receive a lot of UV sun exposure. This is true even if your car windows are tinted. Granted, this darkened glass may inhibit some radiation, but not enough to stop hyperpigmentation.

Consult with a dermatologist if you are truly looking to remove this spot; perhaps he or she will be able to assist you. Also, if you are prone to hyperpigmentation, even if you were able to remove a particular pigmentation spot, there is no guarantee that same place or another place on your face won’t turn dark in the future.

I have noticed I am getting brown freckles on my forehead.

This is simply pigmentation. When we are exposed to the sun, and especially as we get older, pigmentation irregularities are bound to happen. With sun exposure comes sun damage, sometimes in the form of simple freckles.

Hyperpigmentation is not a fun thing to have; but luckily it’s not life-threatening, just a nuisance. So make covering your face a daily habit. Be aggressive about keeping direct sunlight off your face and wherever else you have developed hyperpigmentation.

To read more about pigmentation irregularities, see: