Summer is here, and the bright California sun is already enticing many of us outdoors. Unfortunately, that warm sunshine does more than make us excited for beach season. You probably know the dangers of UV rays regarding skin cancer. Did you know exposure to the sun can also increase your risk of skin discoloration? Beyond the redness of sunburn, too much time in the sun can also lead to hyperpigmentation and age spots. The Center for Facial and Body Rejuvenation has some tips to help you stop hyperpigmentation before it starts and treat it after it occurs.
What is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is discoloration of the skin due to overproduction of melanin. It can happen in small marks, such as freckles or age spots. It can also cover larger areas in a condition known as melasma or chloasma. In some cases, hyperpigmentation is left behind after skin conditions like acne, taking the appearance of small, dark marks.
Potential causes of hyperpigmentation include:
- Sun exposure (accounts for the majority of hyperpigmentation marks)
- Hormonal changes as a result of pregnancy or oral contraceptives
- Genetics, which means if your parent has it, you are more likely to as well
- Skin conditions that cause inflammation, such as acne
The Importance of Sunscreen
Sun exposure is the number one contributor to hyperpigmentation, as UV rays are absorbed by the melanin in the skin. This is also the reason the skin tans when out in the sun for a period of time. As the primary contributor of skin discoloration, it makes sense that consistent use of sunscreen will significantly reduce your chances of developing hyperpigmentation over time.
We recommend daily use of a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30. If you are outdoors for an extended period, reapply sunscreen every two hours or so to maintain your protection. You should also reapply more frequently if you are sweating heavily due to physical activity or in the water.
If you do develop hyperpigmentation despite your best efforts at prevention, we offer treatment options specifically designed to reverse this condition and restore your smoother, clearer complexion. Our two top treatment choices for hyperpigmentation are:
This treatment uses intense pulsed light (IPL) to target the melanin in the skin and eliminate hyperpigmentation spots. The light therapy reaches the underlying dermal layers without disrupting the outer skin cells, producing superior results without significant discomfort or downtime. The procedure can be used on nearly any area of skin where hyperpigmentation commonly forms.
Fraxel Laser Treatments
Fraxel is a procedure that works differently from other laser devices. Instead of using laser energy to remove the outer layers of skin, Fraxel creates micro-injuries in the skin to stimulate the body’s own cell renewal process. As the healing progresses, imperfections like hyperpigmentation are reduced or eliminated entirely. This procedure also minimizes the appearance of fine lines, shallow scarring and enlarged pores.
Hyperpigmentation can often be prevented, simply by protecting your skin from the sun consistently. If you do have hyperpigmentation that has already formed, we can help you say “goodbye” to those discoloration patches with minimally-invasive procedures that offer superior results without anesthesia or significant downtime. To learn more, contact the Center for Facial and Body Rejuvenation at 408-255-3223.