Skin texture changes are some of the most visible and frustrating signs of aging. Each individual develops their own changes of skin texture due to genetics and lifestyle choices like smoking and sun exposure. The changes include wrinkles, scarring, dry skin, uneven skin tone, and hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation is a fancy term for skin discoloration, and it can have a number of causes. Our skin color is determined by the levels of melanin in our tissues (higher levels of melanin mean darker skin tone). When we suntan, our melanin levels rise in order to protect our bodies from UV exposure- this is what makes our skin darker after being outside all day.
As a matter of fact, sun exposure is one of the main causes of hyperpigmentation, or discoloration. If were exposed to the sun for too long, melanin production can go into overdrive in certain spots, producing darker spots or patches. It can also make the dark spots or freckles we already have look much darker. People who don’t wear sunblock, hats, or other skin protection, and those who purposefully sunbathe, are most likely to develop this form of hyperpigmentation.
Another cause of hyperpigmentation is healing from acne, psoriasis, or other skin wounds. As the issue subsides, inflammation around the area can cause the skin to darken. This form of scarring can last for days, or it may never go away (without treatment). People with darker skin tones are more susceptible to inflammation-based hyperpigmentation.
Hormones can also cause hyperpigmentation, especially in women who are pregnant. For many women, darker patches that come during pregnancy will resolve in time. Women who are on certain forms of birth control may also experience hormonal hyperpigmentation, which will also resolve itself with a change in medication.
There are a number of treatments available for combatting hyperpigmentation, from laser resurfacing to chemical peels. Call our office with any questions at (703) 574-2588. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!