Sunday, March 16, 2014

What are the concepts in treating hyperpigmented skin?

The most important concept is to avoid sun and use a sunscreen on a daily basis. Ideally, this sunscreen should be built into a daily moisturizer that is individualized for the person’s skin type. The sunscreen should he broad-spectrum and have an SPF of at least 15, although SPF 30+ is often recommended for skin with hyperpigmentation.

The second concept is to remove dead surface cells that are already stained with melanin, most often accomplished with the use of a chemical exfoliant, such as Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA). Glycolic acid and Lactic acid are the most frequently used AHAs. Although Mandelic acid delivers the same results but fewer skin irritations. The acid is usually in the form of a serum, gel or lotion and may be used once or twice a day at home.

All AHA products must be used in conjunction with an SPF-15 or higher sunscreen, which is even more important when treating hyperpigmentation. Alpha hydroxyl acids work by dissolving the bond between dead cells, allowing surface cells to fall off the skin surface. Because these cells are already stained with pigment, removing them reveals cells underneath that may be non-stained, lighter in pigment content and color.

In many cases of minor splotchy mottling due to sun exposure, the use of an AHA containing product, along with sunscreen and sun avoidance, significantly lightens discolorations in a matter of weeks or months. Continued use of such products and sunscreen will result in further normalization of skin color.

Another helpful concept in hyperpigmentation treatment is the use of a product that contains a melanin suppressant.

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