What Happens In The Skin
Your skin is made up of three layers. The outer layer is the epidermis, the middle is the dermis, and the deepest layer is the subcutis. Its an organ the largest organ and it makes up about one-seventh of your body weight. Your skin is your barricade. It protects your bones, muscles, organs and everything else from the cold, from germs, sunshine, moisture, toxic substances, injury and more. It also helps regulate your body temperature, prevent hydration and feel sensations like the warmth of the stove, the fur on your dogs belly and the pressure of someone elses hand holding yours.
Your epidermis contains cells called melanocytes that store and produce a dark color known as melanin. In response to light, heat, or ultraviolet radiation or by hormonal stimulation, the melanocytes produce more melanin, and thats why your skin darkens.
Protect Your Skin From The Sun
The most effective way to prevent sun-induced discoloration is to diligently apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or greater, every day, even on cloudy or cool days. “UV rays just send the pigment into overdrive, turning dark spots darker,” says Dr. Day. “You must wear sunblock daily on exposed areas.”
SPF refers to protection from UVB short-wave rays only. To also protect against UVA long-wave rays, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises choosing a product that contains Mexoryl, Parsol 1789, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or avobenzone.
Additionally, the AAD recommends avoiding the outdoors between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun is strongest. You can also wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your head, as well as your face, ears, and neck.
Dark Patches On The Face May Be Melasma
- By Kelly Bilodeau, Former Executive Editor, Harvard Women’s Health Watch
You may have heard melasma referred to as the mask of pregnancy, because it is sometimes triggered by an increase in hormones in pregnant women. But while the condition may be common among pregnant women, you dont have to be pregnant to experience melasma.
Its not only associated with pregnancy, but can affect women at all stages of life, says Dr. Shadi Kourosh, director of the Pigmentary Disorder and Multi-Ethnic Skin Clinic at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. And it may last for many years. Women who develop melasma in their teens or 20s or 30s may see it stay around for decades, says Dr. Barbara Gilchrest, senior lecturer on dermatology at Harvard Medical School.
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How To Treat Hormonal Acne Naturally
In some cases, plant-based treatment options may be used to clear up mild hormonal acne.
Natural treatments are usually free of the side effects sometimes caused by prescription options. But they may not be as effective. Research on natural options is lacking, and at this time nothing has been proven to produce results. Talk with your doctor about potential risks and to ensure the treatment wont interact with any medications youre taking.
Under Eye Dark Circle
If under-eye dark circles are your constant companion, you probably have hormone issues. No matter what you do, it stays with you. It happens due to adrenal fatigue.
When your stress levels rise, the production of cortisol increases. It leads to lack of sleep at night and makes you feel restless. Constant tiredness and lack of sleep cause dark circles around your eyes.
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How Is A Hormonal Imbalance Diagnosed
First, make an appointment with a health care provider for a physical exam. The health care provider will ask about your symptoms. Then, depending on your symptoms, they will suggest which hormone imbalance tests to do. These could be evaluations like:
- Blood test: Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroxine, TTH, insulin, and cortisol levels can be detected in the blood.
- Pelvic exam: A health care provider will search for any lumps or cysts.
- Ultrasound: Images of your uterus, ovaries, thyroid, and pituitary gland can be obtained.
What Sunscreen Should Melasma Patients Use
Choosing an appropriate sunscreen is critical if you develop melasma, and studies have shown that broad-spectrum tinted sunscreens, especially ones containing iron oxide, can lower pigment production in the skin in melasma patients, as they block visible light as well as UVA/UVB rays. Non-tinted sunscreens, on the other hand, do not block visible light.
For some people, it might be more convenient to use cosmetic products such as foundations that contain both UVA/UVB blockers and visible light blockers such as iron oxide. These products can conceal dark spots and therefore alleviate the psychosocial impact of melasma, and at the same time act as a sunscreen to protect against darkening of the lesions.
It is important for people with melasma to know that visible light can go through windows, and therefore even if they are not out in the sun, they can still get melasma flares by exposing themselves to visible light while driving or sitting by a window.
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How To Prevent Hyperpigmentation
Although not all causes of hyperpigmentation can be prevented, there are some steps you can take to prevent certain instances of hyperpigmentation:
Avoid direct sunlight. Try to stay out of the sun during the peak hours of 10 am to 2 pm. Sit under a sun umbrella or in the shade when youâre outdoors to minimise your sun exposure.
Use a hat. Shade your face and scalp with a wide-brimmed hat.
Incorporate Vitamin C into your beauty routine. Vitamin C is a nutrient-rich antioxidant known for its powerful skin-brightening and anti-aging capabilities that helps neutralise free radicals and limit the damage caused by excessive sun exposure, amongst other things. Try Olay Vitamin C + AHA24 Gel Face Cream. Its breakthrough formula contains Vitamin C combined with Lactic Acid and Niacinamide that hydrates, brightens and evens skin tone.
Apply SPF. Choose sun protection that is at least SPF 15 and use it daily, even in the cooler months, to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Try Olay Regenerist Whip SPF 30 for a 2-in-1 benefit â moisturise your skin with this ultra-lightweight cream and protect it against the sun.
Limit touching your skin. Scratching or picking a mosquito bite or a spot can result in inflammation and lead to darker pigmentation on your face, so itâs best to avoid touching your skin. When you do touch your skin, for example when applying your skin care or makeup, make sure you wash your hands first.
Vitamin C + AHA24 Gel Face Cream
Medications And Topical Treatments
Some commonly used options are topical retinols and retinoid treatments, which are applied to the skin to help speed your bodys natural cell turnover process. This may help dark patches clear more quickly than they would on their own. In addition, some doctors may prescribe bleaching agents, such as hydroquinone, which works by blocking melanin production. But while products with hydroquinone can be purchased over the counter, they should only be used under a doctors care and only on the darkened areas of the skin. Higher concentrations of hydroquinone can cause white spots to develop on the skin, says Dr. Gilchrest. The medication may even cause a darkening of the skin in some cases. Other topical lightening agents may be recommended. Other treatment options may include chemical peels, laser treatments, and skin microneedling. But at this point theyre not reliably effective, says Dr. Gilchrest.
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Should I Worry About Brown Spots On My Face
Areas of the body frequently exposed to the sunlike the face, hands, and neckare prone to flat brown spots varying in size and shape. Sun spots are typically harmless and do not progress to any type of cancer. But that doesnt mean all spots are harmless. If your spots change in shape and size, its important to have them checked out by a licensed dermatologist or dermatology provider promptly.
Along with sunspots, other spots can appear on your skin. Heres how to distinguish between the different types of spots:
Seborrheic keratosis appears as brown, yellow, white, or black rough areas of skin that are slightly raised. Theyre also not harmful but can be hard to distinguish from melanoma.
Actinic keratosis is referred to as pre-cancer. These spots are rough and scaly and, without treatment, can progress to squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.
Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
Melasma is a benign skin disorder that has no morbidity. The key reason why some patients seek treatment is aesthetic. Fortunately, melasma resolves on its own in most cases. Thus, healthcare workers including nurse practitioners, dermatologists, and primary care providers should educate the patient on avoiding the sun and discontinuing the trigger medications. There are dozens of treatments for melasma and none is superior to the other. In fact, some treatments like the laser may worsen the condition.
Patients who seek no treatment and avoid the sun will notice that the rash usually disappears in a few months.
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Types Of Pigmentation Spots
In order to find out how to remove black spots that are caused by pimples or any other concern, or which cream to use, etc., you will have to first determine what type of dark spots have occurred. Below are the three types of dark spots that an individual can encounter
- Melasma: Melasma spot is most common in women and those who have a darker skin tone. Melasma is an extended form of pigmentation, and you would notice patches of skin in colors ranging from light yellow to dark brown. Also, rather than tiny spots, melasma spots can cover a larger area of your skin.
- Lentigines: Solar Lentigines usually occur due to overexposure to sunlight. The harsh UV rays lead to either a single spot or multiple spots which appear as a patch. You will notice this type of black spots mostly in adults rather than children.
- Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation : As the name suggests, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is the result of an inflammation leading to increase in pigmentation. Appearance-wise, these spots would appear more like blemishes with their color ranging from pink to red to dark brown. Popping or picking at your acne will often end up with you having dark spots due to PIH.
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What Causes And/or Triggers Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is caused by an increase in melanin. Melanin is the natural pigment that gives our skin, hair and eyes their color. A number of factors can trigger an increase in melanin production, but the main ones are sun exposure, hormonal influences, age and skin injuries or inflammation.
Sun exposure and hyperpigmentation
Sun exposure is the number one cause of hyperpigmentation as its sunlight that triggers the production of melanin in the first place. Melanin acts as your skins natural sunscreen by protecting you from harmful UV rays, which is why people tan in the sun. But excessive sun exposure can disrupt this process, leading to hyperpigmentation.
Once dark spots have developed, sun exposure can also exacerbate the issue by making age spots , melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation spots even darker.
Hyperpigmentation and hormones
Hormonal influences are the main cause of a particular kind of hyperpigmentation known as melasma or chloasma. Its particularly common among women and is thought to occur when the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone stimulate the overproduction of melanin when skin is exposed to the sun.
Hyperpigmentation can also be a side effect of certain hormone treatments.
Hyperpigmentation and age
Hyperpigmentation, skin injuries and inflammation
Hyperpigmentation, disease and medication
It can also be triggered by certain medications such as chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics, antimalarials and anti-seizure drugs.
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We Can Help You Find Relief From Melasma
- Meet with a Gennev Doctor – our menopause specialists can help you understand fluctuations in your hormones as they relate to melasma along with any other symptoms you may experience, and provide a personalized treatment plan.
- Try Vitality to support your overall health throughout menopause. Gennevâs nutrient-packed multi-vitamin supplement supports inflammation and joint pain, mood, energy, stress response and immune health.
- Are you getting your Omega-3s? Gennevâs Heart & Brain Premium Omega-3 for Women offers care for your heart and brain as well as helps to relieve dry eyes and dry skin.
The information on the Gennev site is never meant to replace the care of a qualified medical professional. Hormonal shifts throughout menopause can prompt a lot of changes in your body, and simply assuming something is âjust menopauseâ can leave you vulnerable to other possible causes. Always consult with your physician or schedule an appointment with one of Gennev’s telemedicine doctors before beginning any new treatment or therapy.
Melasma Can Be Hard To Treat
While melasma isnt painful and doesnt present any health risks, it can cause significant emotional distress. The condition can be difficult to treat, and theres a lot of misinformation out there about what causes it, says Dr. Kourosh.
Youre more likely to get melasma if you have a darker skin type, probably because your skin naturally has more active pigment-producing cells, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Melasma appears when these cells become hyperactive and produce too much pigment in certain areas of the skin. Melasma is more common in women, but it can also affect men. It may have a genetic component, as it often runs in families.
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What Is Melasma And What Does It Look Like
Melasma is a common skin disorder. Loosely translated, the word means black spot. If you have melasma youre probably experiencing light brown, dark brown and/or blue-gray patches on your skin. They can appear as flat patches or freckle-like spots. Commonly affected areas include your face, including the cheeks, upper lip and forehead, as well as the forearms. Melasma is sometimes called the mask of pregnancy because it frequently affects pregnant women. Melasma typically darkens and lightens over time, often getting worse in the summer and better in the winter.
Another, less common name for melasma, is chloasma. Although this disorder is completely harmless, it understandably makes some people feel self-conscious.
How Does It Work
Melanin is a pigment that gives the skin and hair their color. It is responsible for freckles and other dark patches on the skin. Melanin is made by melanocytes, which are cells present in the skin and other parts of the body.
When a person applies hydroquinone to the skin, it reduces the number of melanocytes. Fewer melanocytes means that the body produces less melanin in the treated area. The skin usually appears lighter within about 4 weeks.
Exposure to sunlight reverses the effects of hydroquinone. Doctors recommend that people who use this product also use a strong sunscreen.
Hydroquinone is generally safe. As with all medications, however, some people may experience side effects.
Some possible side effects include:
- mild contact dermatitis or allergic reactions
The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology suggest that people avoid getting the product in their eyes and only use small amounts on the face.
Long-term use of hydroquinone could give rise to ochronosis. Ochronosis causes a blue-black pigmentation and caviar-like spots to develop on the skin.
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Melasma Causes And Risk Factors
Doctors do not fully understand why melasma occurs. It may be due to the malfunction of the melanocytes in the skin, causing them to produce too much color in certain spots.
As a result, people with light brown skin to darker skin tones may be more likely to develop melasma as they have more melanocytes than people with lighter skin do.
Risk factors :
- Sun exposure. Frequent exposure to UV rays can trigger melasma.
- Skin color. Melasma occurs most commonly in people with light brown skin tones, particularly if they live in areas with high levels of sun exposure.
- Female sex. Melasma affects females about 9 times more than it does males.
- Pregnancy. Melasma is more common during pregnancy, affecting 15% to 50% of pregnant people. This may be due to pregnancy hormones.
- Genetics. Up to 50% of people with melasma report that close relatives also have the condition.
Potential triggers for melasma can include:
- changes in hormones during pregnancy
- hormone treatment or taking birth control pills
- certain skin care products, if they irritate a persons skin
- some medications, including anti-seizure medications and those that make the skin more sensitive to sun exposure, such as includes retinoids, some blood pressure medications, and certain antibiotics
What Is The Best Over The Counter Dark Spot Solution
OTC solutions like black spot removal creams, gels, soap and cleansers are widely assumed to be effective in dealing with this condition. However, you might see little to moderate results from any OTC products. Further, you run the risk of side-effects like skin irritation and damage.
- Hydroquinone: An ingredient called hydroquinone is easily available over-the-counter. Hydroquinone helps in restraining tyrosinase, which is an enzyme that helps in melanin production. Since the production of tyrosinase is limited, the production of melanin also slows down. Depending upon the extent of your dark spots, it can easily take 8-12 weeks for this treatment to show visible results.
- Kojic Acid: Kojic Acid is an integral ingredient of skin lighteners and is made out of fermented rice or mushrooms. There can be some minor side effects from using kojic acid topically Hence, it is advised to use it in low concentrations. This treatment works by subduing the main function of the pigment cells.
- Others: Some other ingredients like Azelaic acid, Lactic acid, and Salicylic acid is available in different strength in various dark spot removal products. Make sure to consider your skin type and skin sensitivity before choosing any product.
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