Among the most common skin problems is hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is when some areas of your skin produce excess melanin, resulting to dark spots, brown or gray skin patches, freckles, age spots, sun spots, pregnancy mask, and liver spots. All of these refer to discoloration in the skin because of the excess melanin.
There are many possible causes of hyperpigmentation. The common ones are excessive sun exposure, acne, cosmetic products, skin treatments, hormonal changes, or sometimes, heredity. When hyperpigmentation is triggered by hormonal changes such as in pregnancy or while taking birth control pills or hormone medication, it is often referred to as melasma.
Although there are several options when it comes to addressing hyperpigmentation, the easiest option is often the use of topical treatment. Here are some of them:
This is the most popular topical treatment for hyperpigmentation. This substance is known for its skin lightening abilities which is why hydroquinone is a common ingredient in many whitening products. Hence, applying a topical cream containing hydroquinone on hyperpigmented skin spots is done so that the spots would lighten. Most hydroquinone creams are available in 4% strength which often requires prescription, and 2% strength, which can be often bought over-the-counter. However, there are some studies which have shown that hydroquinone has carcinogenic effects so make sure to consult with your doctor before using any hydroquinone cream to treat hyperpigmentation.
Tretinoin is a popular substance in many topical creams. It is used to treat acne, reduce fine lines, smoothen wrinkles, reduce roughness, and improve skin discolorations. It is available in various strengths so make sure to consult with your doctor first before using it as a hyperpigmentation treatment. Some doctors may prescribe using a combination of hydroquinone cream and tretinoin cream for hyperpigmentation.
One substance that is growing in popularity is cysteamine. It is being touted as a safer alternative to hydroquinone. Cysteamine is a natural antioxidant found in the human body and a cream has been recently developed containing cysteamine hydrochloride. Not only does this cysteamine cream remove or lighten brown patches on the skin, it is also corticosteroid-free and paraben-free. Because of its antioxidant properties, cysteamine is also anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic.
Often used as a skin lightening agent, glycolic acid is also an option for treating hyperpigmentation. Some topical creams include glycolic acid in their ingredients along with other substances such as hydroquinone and tretinoin. Glycolic acid aids in the removal of the upper layer of the skin which is why it is often used in chemical peel treatments. Hence, expect some skin peeling when using a topical cream with glycolic acid.
This substance is usually found in acne medication. It has also been effective as a hyperpigmentation treatment particularly for people with darker skin tones. Although it is considered safer than hydroquinone, there are side effects to be expected when using azelaic acid such as peeling, dryness, redness, and flaking. Some doctors may prescribe this in combination with other substances. However, hypopigmentation is also a risk with the use of azelaic acid.
No matter which topical treatment you may prefer to use for your hyperpigmentation, it is important to consult with a doctor and discuss your concerns before using any product.