If you find parts of your face are becoming darker than others, especially around the forehead, apples of the cheeks and jawline you most likely have hyper-pigmentation.
What is hyper-pigmentation?
Hyper-pigmentation describes any disorder where the melanocytes (Melanin pigment-producing cells in the skin) have become over-active and are producing too much pigment, causing a patchy or un-even appearance in skin tone.
A Common type of hyperpigmentation is Melasma, which is a broad term used to describe physiological factors which may cause this over-action of the pigment-producing cells.
Melasma is commonly caused by fluctuating hormone levels, specifically oestrogen, during pregnancy, menopause or can be caused by oestrogen supplements, contraceptive pills, HRT and cellular hypersensitivity to normal oestrogen levels.
Sun exposure is an added culprit, together with the hormones it plays an important role in the distribution of melasma on sun exposed skin.
How to prevent hyper-pigmentation
Preventative measures include limiting Sun and UV exposure (from sun beds) by wearing minimum factor 30 or even factor 50 sun screen daily, full UV protecting sun glasses and sun hats. A long fringe may reduce the UV reaching your skin, but is not an ideal solution.
If you are taking the contraceptive pill you may want to ask your family doctor for a non-oestrogen alternative.
If you’re still suffering you should consult your doctor or dermatologist about how to manage your melasma.
How to treat hyper-pigmentation
Fortunately there are several effective treatments for hyper-pigmentation
Skin peels such as glycolic acid peels, TCA and Jessner are very effective at removing excess pigment.
Prescription de-pigmenting creams containing the active ingredient hydroquinone, such as Pigmanorm.
All of these treatments would have to be administered by a qualified clinician, nurse or doctor.