About Skin Lightening :
Why do some people have patches of excess color on their skin?
The appearance of skin patches that are darker than the surrounding skin color may be caused by natural body processes, or by external causes. Normal skin color is formed by melanin, a natural pigment that also determines eye and hair color. Hyperpigmentation (skin darkening) occurs when too much melanin is produced and forms irregular darker deposits in the skin. The condition is quite common and can affect the skin color of people of any race.
Is hyperpigmentation harmful?
Hyperpigmentation is not a medically harmful condition. It is advisable, however, to have darkened skin patches checked by a physician to make sure they are not a type of skin cancer (melanoma). Usually people seek treatment for hyperpigmentation because it is cosmetically displeasing to them. Physician strength skin lightening products can reduce the unwanted excess color of hyperpigmented skin patches.
Different types of hyperpigmentation
Although all hyperpigmentation is a result of excess melanin, different names are used to describe it based on the cause of the excess melanin production and its appearance on the skin:
- Melasma is a skin coloration that appears as blotchy brown spots often occurring on the cheeks, forehead or temples. The condition is usually associated with hormonal changes. Pregnancy, menopause, and birth control pills can trigger over production of melanin on the face and the darkening of skin on the abdomen and other areas. Another name for melasma is chloasma.
- Age spots or liver spots are small darkened patches on the skin of older adults who have been regularly exposed to the sun over many years. Usually the face and the backs of the hands are most affected by these spots. Solar lentigines is a medical name for this naturally occurring condition.
- Freckles are small, flat, tan to brown spots that can be anywhere on the body. Often a hereditary characteristic, freckles can darken with sun exposure and fade when there is little exposure to sunlight.
- Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation may occur following any process that causes skin inflammation. Skin diseases such as acne or shingles, scars from skin injury or surgery, and cosmetic procedures such as chemical peels, dermabrasion and laser may leave the affected area darker than the normal skin color.
Hyperpigmentation and Skin Color
Any skin color that has blotchy areas of hyperpigmentation is suitable for treatment with hydroquinones. The color of the irregular patches of excess pigment varies from brown in Caucasions to blue-black in Asians and Afro-Americans. Hydroquinones have been in use for a long time, and is the medically accepted standard for the treatment of these conditions.
To avoid hyperpigmentation, avoid the sun
Hyperpigmented skin patches may become more pronounced when skin is exposed to the sun. This happens because the skin's pigment, melanin, absorbs the energy of the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays in order to protect the skin from overexposure. Skin tanning occurs as a result of this process, causing hyperpigmented areas to become even darker. Minimizing your exposure to sunlight can help prevent further darkening of existing hyperpigmented patches, as well as the formation of new ones. To protect your skin, we recommend the use of a sunscreen product year-round with an SPF of at least 15 that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Physician-strength skin lightening creams or gels (maximum prescription strength 4% hydroquinoine) slows the production of melanin, causing dark spots to gradually fade and return to normal skin color. These physician-strength lightening creams or gels must be applied regularly, usually twice a day, to be effective. The skin lightening process may take several months to achieve the desired results. Some hydroquinoine products also contain glycolic acid which is a natural exfoliator that helps the skin shed its outermost layer of hyperpigmented skin cells more rapidly as well as helping diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Other ingredients in hydroquinoine products are Vitamin C and E which provide your skin with much needed antioxidant protection to help defend your skin against future damage caused by the sun, pollution and other environmental toxins. Broad-spectrum sunscreens are sometimes added to guard against both UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays.
Wait 20 minutes after application of skin lightening creams or gels before applying other skincare products. This will help ensure that the skin lightening cream or gel is properly absorbed and will not be rubbed off.
Advisory: The safety of topical hydroquinoine use during pregnancy or in children (12 years and under) has not been established. As a result, hydroquinoine products should not be used in pregnant women. It is also not known whether topical hydroquinoine is absorbed or excreted in human milk. Therefore, caution is advised when used by a nursing mother. Some people are sensitive to hydroquinoines. If in doubt, apply a small amount of bleaching cream or gel and check in 24 hours. Minor redness is acceptable, however, itching, blistering or excessive inflammation would be reasons to avoid the drug. If no lightening is noted after 2 months of treatment, the medication should be discontinued.
If you have any questions regarding our products or one of our skin care regimens, please call us at 1-877-415-0600 Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 pm EST.