Dark spots and what to do about them

Out dark spot I say!

A clear even complexion is the holy grail of healthy, younger looking skin, yet almost everyone will face the issue of skin discolouration throughout their lifetime. The good news is there are ways to affect change in pigmentation with cosmetic products available over the counter or as high potency compounded products.

What causes skin pigmentation?

There are many reasons why skin can become discoloured, but it is generally the aftermath of some sort of skin inflammation. Whether it be a blemish, a bug bite, chronic friction or a graze for example, anything that leaves your skin irritated can lead to skin discoloration.

Melasma, or as it is more commonly referred to the “mask of pregnancy,” is another very common cause of hyperpigmentation. But you don’t have to be pregnant to develop this skin condition. Increased estrogen (from pregnancy, birth control pills, estrogen supplements or other hormone sensitivities) can trigger melanocytes, the pigment producing cells, to over produce melanin, resulting in patchy skin discolorations.

Skin lightening solutions

Fortunately, there are a range of treatments available that can lighten the skin. Some of the most common ingredients used in products include hydroquinone, kojic acid, glycolic acid, vitamin A/retinol/tretinoin, azelaic acid, ascorbic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid and steroids.

Hydroquinone 4% Cream is a product we receive orders for regularly, especially from dermatologists and cosmetic doctors as they find it effective in lightening dark patches on the skin. Any level of product over 2% intensity is prescription only from a compound chemist like National Custom Compounding but hydroquinone can be found in over the counter products like John Plunkett Lightening Cream.

Exfoliation while using the cream is another important step in the lightening process as it helps to remove superficial pigmented skin, thus aiding the absorption of the creams into the skin.

Take care to apply the creams on the darker patches of skin only as continued use will lighten normal skin as well.

Preventing further damage

Sun exposure is your number one enemy in the battle with skin discoloration. No matter the cause of your pigmentation, exposure to UV rays will deepen the disparity between the darker patches and your natural base skin tone. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 rating should be applied daily.  Applying sunscreen and limiting direct exposure to sunlight are the easiest prevention steps you can take.

Be patient    

Skin lightening is a slow process and pigmentation cannot be ‘cured’ but you can find great success in changing the disparity of colour in your skin. It may take up to a year to see the full results, especially if you are using an over-the -counter product.

Speak with your doctor or skin specialist if you are keen to try a more potent compound product tailored to suit your skin discolouration issue.

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