What is Pigmentation?
Anyone can experience skin pigmentations regardless of age or skin type. Pigmentations are defined spots that appear in dark colour or patches on our face or body.
Pigments are produced by melanin caused by specialised cells known as melanocytes, that give off its colour on the skin.
What is Melanin?
Melanin is known as a group of natural pigments. They are present in human and animal skin whereas it provides pigmentation to the eyes, hair and skin. It also provides protection for the cell in the body against ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Melanin are usually produce on the hair, the most inner layer of the skin, pupils & irises, substantia nigra & locus coeruleus that is around the brain area, medulla & zona reticularis around the adrenal gland area, and stria vascularis of the cochlear duct that is part of the inner ear area.
Types of Melanin:
- Eumelanin is responsible for dark colours in the skin, eyes and hair and it is categorised into two sub-categorised melanin pigments, black and brown. More amounts of eumelanin are produced amongst individuals with brown or black hair while individuals with minimal to no black or brown hair produce blonde hair.
- Pheomelanin refers to the melanin pigments that appear on body areas that are pinkish colour, such as the lip or nipples. While individuals that contain both Eumelanin and Pheomelanin produce red hair.
- Neuromelanin does not produce pigmentation. However, it is responsible for the colour of the neurons. Neurons are known as Repulsive Guidance Molecule B (RGMB) and play a big part in human skin pigmentation and physiology. It generates melanocytes (also known as melanin) for skin discolouration.
–Can Melanin affect the skin colour?
Every individual usually produces The amount of melanocytes produced by humans is usually the same, however, it varies from individual. People with darker skin usually generate a larger amount of melanin from melanocytes and they generally appear with darker hair, eye and skin tone colour. On the other hand, individuals that experience freckles since birth are usually born with clusters of melanocytes.
–Does Melanin cause any disorders?
Melanin does cause disorders in skin conditions. Some of it include:
- Vitiligo are white patches that sit on the skin when the immune system damages the melanocytes and causes the skin to lose its pigment of colour.
- Albinism are individuals that produce less melanin that might affect their eyesight and colour on the skin or hair. People with this rare disorder usually appear as white or light blonde hair and white or blue eyes, as well as pale skin.
- Melasma are brown or blue-grey patches and spots on the face or arms that are caused by hormones, sun-exposure or birth control pills.
–What happens when the body produces too much Melanin?
When the body produces too much melanin, patches that are on the skin become darker than the other area of the skin, which becomes hyperpigmentation.
What Are The Different Kinds Of Pigmentations?
Pigmentations may affect many people and the most common types are:
- Freckles are spots that are commonly seen on sun-exposed areas such as the face, hands, arms, shoulder, neck, back and upper chest. Freckles are usually clustered together and appear as small or flat spots ranging from red to brown colour on the skin.
- Sun Spots/Age Spots are usually more common for people in their 50s. They are usually caused by the ultraviolet (UV) rays that appear as small and dark patches on the skin.
- Melasma occurs when the body produces too much pigment melanin on the skin and causes patches to form on the skin in brown or grey patches that are exposed to the sun.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) occurs after an injury such as burn or acne. The skin produces more melanin when the skin is irritated or injured.
- Nevus of Ota is seen as a blue-grey coloration that is most commonly found on the face but usually can also appear on the neck, chest and back areas. This is a type of nevus that appears as a dark skin patch when there is an increase in melanocytes that are noncancerous, that is responsible for the skin pigmentation.
- Hori’s Nevus is due to the number of melanocytes that are over produced, forming dark patches anywhere of the body but can be found most commonly on the cheeks area and ranging from dark brown to grey colour.
What Causes Skin Pigmentation?
There are many factors that cause pigmentation and genetics can be a factor that controls the amount of melanin produced by the body. Causes of pigmentation includes:
- Sun Exposure contains ultraviolet (UV) rays that activates the reproduction of melanin underneath the skin and this is when the skin tone gradually turns darker.
- Hormonal Changes are the most commonly seen during pregnancy, however some skin conditions can cause abnormal skin pigmentations. Hormonal changes increase the amount of melanin our body produces and hormone fluctuation can cause melasma to form in dark and small patches.
- Inflammations happen when the skin is healing from injury like acne, burns or eczema. During the healing process, the pigments in the skin will increase or decrease temporarily because of the trauma experienced by the skin.
- Medications are also one factor that causes pigmentation Certain medications might trigger melasma to appear.
Does The Food You Consume Cause Pigmentation?
Certain foods can cause pigmentation to the skin as it affects the body’s hormone level. This includes:
- Spicy or Fried Food – Highly inflammatory for the body and triggers hyperpigmentation of the skin
- Sugar – One of the most inflammatory foods for the body and triggers hyperpigmentation. It also causes premature skin ageing as it breaks down the natural collagen in the skin.
- Dairy – Milk can over produce the skin cells in our body because it contains oestrogen and progesterone hormones that block pores and prevent sebum from binding up. This leads to spot forming.
Who Is More Prone To Getting Pigmentation?
Individuals with darker skin tones create more melanin naturally which explains why they are more prone to experience skin pigmentation issues such as dark patches or spots due to the higher amount of melanins produced in the body when hormones or trauma triggers it. Individuals aged over 40 are also more prone to skin pigmentation as there is more melanin produced by the body.
How to Get Rid of Pigmentations?
- Moisturise the Skin frequently as it can help to boost cells with some product containing retinol. Certain moisturiser contain ingredients that can benefit our skin such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid. A good moisturiser allows the skin to restore the skin’s lupid, fat or barrier as these can help the new skin cells to remain healthy when they start producing on top of the skin surface.
- Keep the Hands Off on any wounds or injuries that are before or after healing because it will worsen the inflammation when scratching or picking is very often.
- Look into Whitening Products that include azelaic, glycolic acid, vitamin C and retinoids as ingredients that can lighten pigments with dark patches or spots and get rid of hyperpigmentations.
- Sunscreen or Sunblock brings great help from getting pigmentations as it protects the skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and prevents the pigments from becoming darker.
- Finding a Gentle Skin Care that does not sting or burn will help to minimise any dark spots or patches from developing in the future. Because a bad skin care will cause irritation and worsen any existing hyperpigmentation or develop a new one.
- PICO Laser is a non-ablative laser treatment that uses ultra short pulse duration of laser energy to the targeted areas in picoseconds and break down pigments into small fragments. This treatment can help to reduce or get rid of all kinds of pigmentations on the skin.
- Sylfirm X is an innovative radiofrequency (RF) microneedling treatment that penetrates the outermost layer of the skin which allows the skin to heal naturally and boost skin rejuvenation by stimulating collagen reproduction with minimal pain and downtime.
- Pro Yellow Laser is a laser treatment that can treat various skin concerns such as dull skin, pigmentations, redness or inflammation and skin complexion. Pro Yellow Laser is able to have a deeper penetration to the tissue in the body.
- Carbon Laser Peel is a laser treatment that helps to brighten the skin and minimise enlarged pores and control sebum and acne from forming by applying a layer of carbon on the face to cleanse or unclog the pores and prevent any oily skin, and it also benefits the skin and provide instant glow and radiance to the skin complexion.
Sunscreen or sunblock is very important and should be applied every day regardless of whether indoors or outdoors and day or night. Daily cleansing of the face at least twice a day is also important to prevent acne from breaking out and leaving a scar.
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