Pigmentation is a common cosmetic concern that has many remedies.
4/20/2018 9:08:12 PM
|written By : Jamuna Pai|
Q. Pigmentation is a common problem among young women. What is the best way to treat this?
Hyperpigmentation occurs when there is an overproduction of the melanin pigment. It’s relatively common, relatively harmless but has been known to distress and deeply affect the people who have it.
It cannot be completely erased but can be brilliantly lightened, which would enable it to be further concealed by make-up.
1. Topical creams with lightening agents. These creams work by hampering the production of melanin while simultaneously increasing cell turnover by sloughing off the top layer of dead skin so that the existing pigmentation is flushed out. The best topical creams for hyperpigmentation are:
a. Kojic acid. It is a very popular
lightening agent, also found in night
repair creams, moisturisers and more. It
prevents the production of melanin.
b. Azelaic acid. Brimming with anti-
bacterial properties, azelaic acid was
primarily used to treat acne but was
accidentally found to possess skin-lightening properties and, since 2007, is also widely used to treat sun spots and pigmentation.
c. Mandelic acid. This agent has anti-bacterial properties and works to slough off the top layer of dead skin cells, enabling faster cell turnover. The healthier cells revealed underneath are also lighter in comparison to the more hyperpigmented layer. d. Hydroquinone. This is a very effective lightening agent but it makes the skin sensitive on application and therefore cannot be subjected to prolonged sun exposure – as it can cause skin irritation and PIH – which makes it difficult for Indians or anyone living in tropical countries to implement. This is why
hydroquinone treatment is not recommended in India. Further, note that only qualified practitioners should prescribe these creams. It is strongly recommend that you do not self-medicate because dosage is very important. ‘Less is more’ is the principle with these creams as well. If used in excess, they irritate the skin and not only cause redness but could also worsen the pigmentation by over- sensitising the skin even before the results are seen.
2. Protection from the sun.
Wearing at least SPF 15 sunscreen every four hours and restricting sun exposure is crucial in containing and preventing hyperpigmentation.
3. Early action. In the initial stages of pigmentation, home remedies work well to stall the progress of the pigmentation. To make a skin-brightening mask, take the juice of half a lime and mix it with the juice of half a medium-sized potato (grate to remove the juice). Lime is rich in citric acid and therefore helps to bleach the skin while potatoes contain the catecholase enzyme, which also helps brighten the skin.
4. Exfoliate regularly. The piling up of dead skin cells further aggravates discolouration and pigmentation. So ensure that you exfoliate regularly. However, choose extremely mild exfoliants and light peels as opposed to stronger products. If the products are too intense, the skin gets damaged and subsequent sun exposure could actually worsen hyperpigmentation and defeat the whole point of exfoliation in the first place.
Q. Is laser treatment an effective way to cure pigmentation?
Laser for treating pigmentation is definitely on the rise, but in my opinion the skin brightening peels work best in cases of pigmentation, especially for the Asian skin type. With constant sun exposure, there are chances of PIH after laser treatment, which can make the treated area look darker or patchy despite the treatment. Peels such as those with glycolic acids, retinol and kojic acid work on ‘melanogenesis’ (reducing the melanin pigment), increase the cell turn over and thereby lessen the pigmented spots.