Some of us may admit that we grew up baby oil tanning before we knew better! Now we have a better understanding of skin care, but that doesn’t mean we’ve found a cure for every skin condition. Once we reach a certain age, almost all of us face some discoloration when we look in the mirror. Certain factors cause skin to become darker (hyperpigmentation); it begins with an increase in melanin, the substance which regulates the body’s pigment.1 Primarily, hyperpigmentation is caused by exposing the skin to ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun.1 Dark spots appear in instances of melasma, scarring, and sun damage. We’ll look closer at each case and some tested treatments.
Behind the pregnancy mask
Hormonal changes during pregnancy lead to hyperpigmentation known as melasma, AKA “the mask of pregnancy.”1 About 70% of pregnant women develop freckles or light brown patches.2 Many mothers breathe a sigh of relief when they hear that melasma frequently clears up after the baby is born. But if it doesn’t, talk to your dermatologist. He/she may have products to suggest based on your situation.
Lighten the burden of treating scars
Acne scars can often develop in areas where blemishes have been present. Those with deeper skin tones may notice darkening within the scars, while people with lighter skin tones may show redness. Scars consisting mainly of collagen (a protein fiber normally found in the skin’s second layer) are the body’s way of repairing itself.3
Spot the early signs to lessen sun damage
Fortunately, an early diagnosis—and early treatment from your skin care physician—can level the playing field, reducing the severity of the appearance of dark spots and sun damage. Be aware that sunblock should be re-applied every 2-3 hours if you’re outdoors. People frequently believe sun damage builds up from many sunny days at the beach or pool. In fact, sun exposure is often experienced in the car! Whether commuting or on a road trip, you could help prevent further discoloration by re-applying sunscreen before you get back behind the wheel.
You can always talk with your skin care physician about your specific condition and concerns. When it comes to dealing with dark spots, doctors and dermatologists have been recommending Obagi Nu-Derm® as a solution for decades. Nu-Derm includes prescription-strength hydroquinone, the dermatologists’ gold standard in helping to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Awareness and prevention are valuable tools—combine them with your dermatologist’s recommendations to improve skin tone, and to keep further damage at bay.
References: 1. Hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, and your skin. WebMD Web site.
http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/hyperpigmentatio.... Accessed August 2, 2012.
2. Tunzi M, Gray GR. Common skin conditions during pregnancy. American Academy of Family Physicians Web site.
http://www.aafp.org/afp/2007/0115/p211.html. Accessed August 2, 2012.
3. Coping with acne: your care plan. WebMD Web site.
http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/acne-care-11/acne.... Accessed August 6, 2012.