Pigmentation – What it is and how you can treat it?
So summer is here and you want to wear less make up and go for a more natural look for summer. Only you may have noticed some marks on your skin, what may look like large freckles here and there. This is known as pigmentation. It is usually caused by exposing the skin to the sun without your sunscreen over time. We will often see this pigmentation in people who enjoy gardening or walk a lot; also golfers are prone to getting pigmentation issues! If you wear your sunscreen you may still be at risk if you do not top it up regularly throughout the day, but this is not the only cause of pigmentation. Here you will find some information and solutions.
Thankfully there is a solution to this. If there is severe pigmentation damage you will need to have a stronger treatment, or more regular treatments to improve the appearance of these marks.
What is pigmentation?
Pigmentation or skin darkening may be caused by certain triggers. One such trigger can be melanocytes (the cells that make melanin) are triggered by UV light (sunlight). When they are triggered over long periods of time they can over produce melaninin certain areas and therefore you can be left with light patches or brown marks on the skin. They often look like a cluster of freckles which weren’t there before. Pigmentation can also be caused by the contraceptive pill; the female drug oestrogen in the pill can often cause some women to suffer with mild pigmentation.
What are my options for treatment?
There are varying treatments depending on how bad the pigmentation is.
TCA Trichloacetic Acid Peels
If you have a lot of patches of pigmentation, we would recommend TCA or Trichloroacetic acid peels. These are medium depth peels or is often called a resurfacing treatment. It removes dead skin cells to reveal the fresh healthy skin cells underneath. It can take up to four treatments to remove stubborn pigmentation, and you may require a maintenance peel from time to time.
Obagi skin care regimen works very well if your pigmentation is deep and extensive, or if you have dark skin. This is a skincare system which requires some time and compliance to work; this system relies on hydroquinone and Tretinoin. These substances are known to eliminate pigment, as the products work on each layer of skin to deactivate the melanocytes where the pigment is made. This method of treatment usually gives a more permanent result when used as a maintenance programme.
Glycolic acid Peels
If the pigmentation is mild, we can use a course of glycolic acid to remove the pigment; glycolic peels work to dissolve the bonds that hold dead skin cells together helping them to exfoliate away. This is a mild and exfoliating peel which over time can help improve the appearance of the pigmentation. You will most likely require a minimum of four peels to see the benefit of these treatments.
IPL and Alexandrite laser
In basic terms,the laser is attracted to the pigment in the skin and heats up this pigment, this causes the pigment to heat up and then the affected areas ‘flake off” this can take up to three treatments to be totally effective, it will also depend on how much pigmentation that you have to be treated. It can take up to three treatments to see the full the elimination of the pigment.
What should I do to avoid the pigmentation reoccurring?
If you are using a treatment plan prescribed by Dr Fay, you will be advised to remain on that. If you have had other treatments, we would advise you to complete the prescribed course of treatments. Then when you are finished your treatments we would recommend a strong sunscreen of at least factor 50 which will protect your skin against further damage. We would highly recommend Heliocare sunscreen, which is available to buy in clinic for €25.
We would also recommend you wear a hat whilst out in the sun.
It would also be wise to avoid microdermabrasion; microdermabrasion can stimulate melanocytes and cause pigmentation to reoccur. If your pigmentation is being caused by other factors such as the contraceptive pill, HRT or any other medication, we would recommend that you visit Dr Fay for a skin consult to discuss your options with her.
Call Slievemore clinic on 012000500 and we can book your treatment today and to avail of our great packages for the treatments mentioned here!