Addressing Pigmentation Issues
Ask any of your girlfriends and there is high possibility that flawless skin would be one of the desired beauty wish list. Did you know that the skin is the largest organ of our body? And, it is no understatement that every single day, our skin withstands the onslaught of extreme weather and pollution just to keep our body temperature in check.
Skin is made up of two layers, namely the upper ‘epidermis’ and the lower ‘dermis’. The epidermis and the dermis are further divided into other layers. The lower most layer of the epidermis is known as the basal layer and it contains ‘melanosomes’. These melanosomes further contain cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes produces pigment called ‘melanin’.
The color of our skin depends mainly on this melanin, as well as, the amount of melanin present in the other layers of the epidermis. Melanin is the culprit here when it comes to pigmentation. In fact, skin pigmentation disorders occur because the body simply produces either too much, or too little melanin – the substance that gives color to our hair, skin and eyes.
Here is a snapshot of the most common skin pigmentation:
Hypopigmentation comes in the form of lessened pigmentation or a total loss of it. In its most extreme form, hypopigmentation makes people albinos. Albinism is an inherited trait and refers to the almost complete absence of pigment in the skin. People who suffer from it must be extremely careful in the sun.
As opposed to hypo, hyperpigmentation refers to excess melanin production. Freckles, for example is an example of hyperpigmentation. Although most children have freckles, they are not born with them. Exposure to the sun usually causes freckles.
Pigmented birthmarks are discoloration of the skin that appears smooth and flat and they go by several names; Mongolian spots are bruised or bluish colored pigmentation that typically appears on buttocks; cafe-au-lait spots are light brown spots appearing at random across the body. Moles also fall under this category.
Macular stains appear as mild red marks anywhere on the body, but they are not elevated. Macular stains are the most common type of vascular (from blood vessels) birthmark and it appear in two forms. Angel’s kisses appear on the forehead and eyelids, but they typically disappear at early childhood. Stork bites are noted on the back of the neck and can last into adult years.
Port-wine stains are actually abnormally developed blood vessels and usually lasts a lifetime. They appear as flat, pink red or purple marks and often occur on the face, trunk, arms and legs.
Melasma, also known as chloasma, is characterized by tan or brown patches on the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. Although this condition is typically termed as ‘pregnancy mask’, man can also develop this condition. The good news is, melasma usually goes away after pregnancy.
Vitiligo is a condition where melanocytes are destroyed. Ad a result, white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body. The cause of vitiligo is unknown at this point of time, but some possibilities include physical trauma or disease such as diabetes.
Available Pigmentation Treatment
To those suffering from albinism, doctors advise to cover up, use sunscreen and avoid excess sunlight to prevent skin cancer. In some cases, people with albinism also must use protective sunglasses and corrective lenses.
To the people suffering from vitiligo, physicians may prescribe a combination of photo-sensitive medications and combine that with ultraviolet light therapy to darken the spots. Doctors may also use skin bleaching agents like monobenzone to give the skin a lighter, more uniform appearance.
Ranging from creams to serum, and even vitamin C jabs, advances in the study of dermatology is pushing boundaries in the quest for porcelain skin. Women with hyperpigmentation may be treated with creams such as hydroxy quinine, tretinoin, topical steroids and beauty products containing alpha hydroxil acid. If none of these prove effective, a woman may opt for chemical peeling, laser surgery, intense pulse light treatment and dermabrasion. For those who believes in the alternative natural approach, products such as Revitol may help.