Hyperpigmentation vs Melasma
With Sydneysiders enjoying their post-lockdown life and the weather well and truly warming up, the beaches across the city will be filled in no time! We thought everyone’s favourite time of the year was the perfect opportunity to talk about pigmentation and the different ways this can present on the skin.
Like many skin conditions, the different types of pigmentation are generally crammed into the same category and despite sometimes presenting similarly, there are key differences in their cause, aggravation, and treatment.
Today, we’re talking about the differences between hyperpigmentation and melasma as treating these conditions the exact same way can lead to the worsening of the condition! Read on to learn their key differences and how those with these conditions can nurture their skin.
What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is an umbrella term that refers to excess pigment within the skin. This is where a patch (or patches) of skin have become noticeably darker than the surrounding area and manifests in the form of freckles, sunspots, liver spots and uneven skin tone.
Hyperpigmentation can be caused by a variety of factors with the two most common being post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and sun-induced hyperpigmentation.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation develops when trauma or injury has occurred to the skin. This can be a reminder of past acne, an injury or surgery, or even because of poorly performed aesthetic treatments.
Most forms of hyperpigmentation can be treated with skin care treatments and aesthetic skin care products but it’s important to seek the guidance of a professional to ensure your pigmentation has been identified correctly.
How is this different to melasma?
Despite being a form of pigmentation, melasma is manifested in a different way to the above forms of hyperpigmentation. Commonly known as ‘hormonal pigmentation’, melasma is most prevalent in women but can be experienced by men also.
Melasma is caused by the stimulation of melanocyte-stimulating hormones which generally occurs during hormonal shifts in the body such as during pregnancy, menopause, and the effects of oral contraceptives.
Unlike the likes of freckles, melasma appears in uniform dark patches that appear as if they’ve been smeared on the body, particularly the face.
Why do they need to be treated differently?
As a result of being hormonally driven, the treatment of melasma differs significantly from its hyperpigmented counterparts. Melasma is extremely sensitive to light, heat, and aggressive actives which can all actually make the condition worse.
Therefore, treating melasma needs to be highly considered and always by the hands of a professional. Many of the treatments that would be ideal for other forms of pigmentation will work against melasma patients, making it a stubborn condition to get on top of.
A series of carefully chosen peels, low-energy laser treatments and pigment regulating aesthetic skin care products frequent regularly in a melasma-reducing treatment plan which is monitored regularly to measure progress.
The treatment options are much greater for those experiencing post-inflammatory or sun-induced pigmentation but like melasma, these require commitment in and out of the clinic. The use of professional-grade antioxidants, expertly crafted peels and laser and IPL treatments are all excellent for tackling sun-induced hyperpigmentation where the use of skin needling is a fantastic treatment to add into the mix for post-inflammatory patients.
Like any multifaceted skin condition, it’s always best to consult your skin health professionals to avoid worsening your pigmentation.
What can we do at home to manage our pigmentation?
The one thing all forms of pigmentation have in common is that prevention should be as high of a priority as correction. We all have access to SPF products and proper sun protection habits which are an extremely effective and affordable way to manage and prevent future pigmentation.
Whilst we cannot correct melasma through sun protection, we can avoid the heat and light from UV rays worsening our condition making daily SPF use a must for all types of pigmentation.
Diligent sun protection, and reapplication of SPF products throughout the day, is going to reduce the worsening of existing pigmentation and prevent new pigmentation from appearing and adding to your list of areas to treat.