Pigment in the skin is created by cells called melanocytes that produce melanin. Interestingly, we all have the same number of melanocytes, but it is the amount of melanin that determines the colour of our skin.
Pigmentation is discolouration of the skin and common forms of pigmentation include freckles, birthmarks, sun damage/sunspots and melasma (hormonal pigmentation). Inflammatory processes such as acne may also result in pigmentation – either as darker skin patches (Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation) or as lighter skin patches (Post-Inflammatory Hypopigmentation).
Pigmentation can be the result of genetic, environmental or hormonal factors. Environmental factors that can affect pigmentation include sun exposure, smoking, certain medications and medical/skin conditions. Most types of pigmentation are generally benign; however, some lesions may be suspicious for skin cancers and we may recommend a skin cancer check prior to your treatment.
At COCO Skin Clinic, we commonly treat unwanted skin pigmentation and are considered the specialist in this field. Firstly, it is important to determine the cause of the pigmentation, as different types of pigmentation, often require different treatment approaches. Regardless, our general advise to minimise the appearance of unwanted pigmentation is to ensure you are using high quality home skincare containing vitamin B & C and diligent sun protection including daily broad spectrum SPF50+ sunscreen.
Below, we will outline some of the most common causes of pigmentation and our recommended treatment options. Please note that this only serves as a guide and a customised treatment plan will be recommended for you, following a consultation.
Melasma is a common skin disorder presenting as blotchy brown marks on both sides of the cheeks, forehead and/or above the lips. It is a complex, chronic condition and we don’t fully understand all the causes. However, we do know that like most conditions, genetics plays a significant role. Other factors which can exacerbate the condition include hormonal changes – such as pregnancy (hence it is commonly known as ‘pregnancy mask’), medications such as the contraceptive pill, sun exposure, heat exposure, thyroid problems and even the use of scented soaps and cosmetics. Melasma is more common in females and those with darker skin types, however, it has the potential to present in anyone. Melasma cannot be cured, although it is possible to manage and minimise the appearance of unwanted pigmentation with maintenance treatments, carefully selected at home skincare and excellent sun protection habits.
The professionals at COCO Skin Clinic are the experts in the management of melasma. We have a wide variety of treatment options to suit all individuals. We can offer simple skincare to more advanced treatments such as Doctor prescribed medications, Dermamelan De-Pigmenting System, Medical Grade Skin Needling (Dermapen) with Mesotherapy and Halo PRO Laser. Book in for a consultation and receive a customised treatment plan to suit your individual needs.
Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a form of pigmentation that occurs after trauma to the skin. Common conditions which may cause skin trauma and subsequent PIH include acne, overly aggressive treatments or any injury. PIH is also more likely to occur in darker skin types. If you are prone to PIH, you may be required to use a prescribed home skincare routine for up to four weeks prior to beginning in-clinic treatments.
Excessive sun exposure can result in premature aging, changes in skin texture, visible or dilated blood vessels and darker skin spots. Benign sunspots (also known as solar lentigines) are patches of skin pigmentation often found on sun-exposed areas – such as face and backs of hands. Interestingly, in Australia, most people will note that their right side of their face, right arm and hand has more sunspots – this is due to incidental sun exposure acquired whilst driving. So now that the proof is right in front of our eyes, we need to be aware of sun protection on a daily basis – not just when we are at the beach. In terms of aging, it’s daily incidental sun exposure which causes the most damage – think, sun exposure acquired whilst driving, walking to the car, sitting next to a window, etc. It might not seem like a lot of sun exposure but it’s cumulative damage and hence, we strongly recommend daily application of broad-spectrum SPF 50+ sun screen as an essential part of your skincare routine.
Obviously, prevention is always better than cure – so being sun smart is always preferable. However, if you have unsightly benign sunspots, there are several effective treatment options including Broad Band Light (BBL™) Skin Rejuvenation and Halo PRO Laser. Book in for a consultation with one our skin professionals and we can recommend an individualised treatment regime.