Skin discoloration, or pigmentation, is a general term describing various skin conditions which manifest as brown spots or splotchy skin, triggered by four common causes. Before you can treat your uneven skin tone, you first need to understand what caused it.
Skin discoloration, what causes it? Photo: Istock.
Cause and Effect
- Here comes the sun
We all know that exposure to UV light is damaging to our skin and that damage can very noticeable in some cases. When we are exposed to too much UV light, our body will try to protect itself and block the light by overproducing melanin – the pigment that determines our skin and hair color. The result? Our skin will develop an uneven tone and brown spots.
Don’t expose yourself too much. Photo: Istock.
- The air we breath
Like the sun, air pollution also stimulates the overproduction of pigments. The tiny particles in the air embed themselves deep in our skin’s layers, causing inflammation which over stimulates our pigment producing cells.
- The joys of pregnancy
Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation that develops on sun exposed areas. Closely linked to hormonal imbalance, melasma (aka ‘mask of pregnancy’) most commonly occurs during pregnancies and in women using contraceptives. Yet, there are other causes of melasma, such as genetic disposition and medications.
Hormonal imbalance causes melasma. Photo: Istock.
Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH for short) is a condition in which a skin injury triggers a pigment overproduction. PIH is common in darker skin and is usually caused by acne although other skin injuries, such as burns or psoriasis, can also result in PIH.
Even it Up
So how can you treat uneven skin tones? You could use laser treatments or a chemical peel, or you could opt for the non-invasive option. If you prefer the latter, try these tips.
- Protect yourself from the sun and pollution.Apply sunscreen or moisturizers with SPF regularly whenever you are outdoors. In addition, to counter the free radicals created by pollution, apply products that contain antioxidants and vitamins (C and E in particular), and cleanse your skin with oil cleansers or a facial brush to remove those tiny particles.
- Exfoliate with a gentle scrub to get rid of dead skin at the surface of your discoloration.
- Use pigmentation specific products to treat the visible damage in the upper skin layers. This will slow the production of pigmentation at its source and put a stop to discoloration.