Published on September 27, 2023
If you have dark spots on your skin, it can be challenging to label it. Is it hyperpigmentation or melasma? The two are common. They can look and act the same. Yet, they are two different dermatological conditions.
We all have heard of “all whole numbers are integers, yet not all integers are whole numbers. It is a classic mathematical phrase. Lo and behold, it is the perfect way to understand melasma and hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation entails any discoloration of the skin. It can be acne scars and sun damage. It can be freckles, and age spots. It can also be melasma. Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation. It typically roots from entirely different causes.
All melasma is hyperpigmentation. Yet, not all hyperpigmentation is melasma. To further enlighten yourself on these two keep on reading. We’re going to unravel a comprehensive discussion about these two skin issues. We will define it and tackle its causes. Also, their treatments, and prevention. More importantly, their differences. Let’s get started.
What Is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is an umbrella term. It is employed to cover any conditions where one skin patch becomes noticeably darker. It is than the surrounding skin of the same area. This term covers several more specific conditions. Them being liver spots, freckles, and melasma.
It is any darkening in skin pigment because of an increase in melanin. There are different types of it. Moreover, it can be caused by various factors. Most of them are harmless, too. Finally, hyperpigmentation is readily treatable.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
Various factors can cause hyperpigmentation. It can be due to acne scarring. It can be from medications. It can also be due to inflammation from other skin conditions. Still, the leading cause of it is sun exposure.
When we leave our skin untreated, harmful UV rays from the sun cause damage. This damage shows itself in different ways. It can display as harmless freckles. In unfortunate scenarios, skin cancer. Many of these conditions exist under the category of hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation vs. Dark Spots
Dark spots are age spots or sunspots. They are a type of hyperpigmentation. They appear as small and flat spots on our complexion. They are caused by prolonged sun exposure. Dark spots usually manifest on areas frequently exposed to the heat. These are the face, hands, shoulders, and arms. Also, they can vary in size and color. Some from light brown to black.
Treatments for dark spots may include topical creams. Also, chemical peels, laser therapy, and microdermabrasion. For skincare products, it is best to find those with hydroquinone. Moreover, those with retinoids, vitamin C, and niacinamide.
What Is Melasma?
One specific type of hyperpigmentation is melasma. More than 5 million Americans struggle with it. It is a type of condition defined by having darker patches of skin. Yet, it is differentiated from other forms of hyperpigmentation mainly by its cause. Melasma is caused by mainly by hormonal alterations within the body.
Melasma is often cited as the mask of pregnancy. It is because pregnant women are more likely to have it. Melasma is found much more prevalently in women. It is because of its hormonal cause.
The “mask” has a reason for it. Melasma almost always fixates on a person’s face. It results in dark patches of complexion on the chin, cheeks, nose and upper lips. Also, other cranial areas. It can also be found in other body areas, usually on the shoulders. Melasma is not dangerous. Yet, the dark patches’ location can lead to public discomfort. It can also lessen one’s self-esteem and confidence.
What Causes Melasma?
Several external factors can trigger melasma. Sun exposure, heat, and skin trauma. The three can contribute to its existence. It can also be genetic. But, the real culprits here are hormones. It can also be triggered by birth control. Finally, hormonal therapies.
What Is the Difference Between Melasma and Hyperpigmentation?
It can be challenging to tell which is melasma and hyperpigmentation. Both can appear as dark patches of pigment. Still, a few clues help you tell one from the other.
First is your history. Do you have any medications or therapies causing hormone fluctuations? If so, those pigments are melasma. Suppose you’re fond of soaking in the sun with no sunscreen. Those pigments are hyperpigmentation.
The patch pattern can also aid you in determining these two conditions. Hyperpigmentations are usually very focused. Melasma displays as broad patches. It has intervening areas of clearing. The latter also tends to be more symmetrical.
Treatments for Melasma
Melasma may heal on its own. It usually arises because of a trigger. For example, pregnancy. When you deliver the baby, you can fade melasma. Still, melasma can also last for years. While it cannot harm you, wanting to treat it is understandable.
1. Sun protection
Sunlight triggers the skin. It hypes to make more pigment. It can darken existing melasma. Moreover, it introduces new patches. To combat, wear a wide-brimmed hat while outdoors. Consistently apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher). Do so throughout your day.
Sun protection can help fade melasma. Moreover, it prevents it from returning. You can e a tinted version. It is if you’re tempted to ditch the sunscreen because it leaves a white cast.
Some medications aid in decreasing the excess pigment in the skin. You can shop for skincare products containing the following:
- Hydroquinone. It is a standard treatment for melasma. It is used on the skin and evens out the skin’s complexion.
- Tretinoin and a mild corticosteroid. It is a combination that contains a retinoid and an anti-inflammatory. Both are impressive in evening out skin tone.
- Triple combination cream. It is a cream containing three medications. A tretinoin, a corticosteroid for lessening inflammation, and hydroquinone. Lastly, it works to even your skin.
- Other medications. Azelaic acid, kojic acid and vitamin C. The three are gentler ingredients that also work wonders in fading stubborn melasma.
3. Skin procedures
- Chemical peel. Your provider will employ a chemical solution to the melasma in this procedure. It will then act to remove excess pigment.
- Microneedling. It is a minimally invasive procedure. It creates microscopic tears in the skin. As healing starts, it reveals a more even skin tone.
- Laser and light treatments. Adding a laser and light treatment can better result in melasma. It is for those already applying for medication. Also, those protecting their skin from the sun.
- Platelet-rich plasma. It is a procedure that involves taking a small amount of your blood. It then places the blood into a machine. The machine works to separate the blood into layers. Then, inject the blood layer known as plasma into the skin with melasma. It works to even the skin tone.
Treatments for Hyperpigmentation
1. Face acids
Face acids work by exfoliating or shedding the top layer of our skin. Whenever exfoliation takes place, new skin emerges. They take the place of the old ones. The process helps in the evening the skin tone. Also, it makes it smoother overall. Look for:
Retinoids are obtained from vitamin A. Retinoids are among the oldest OTC skincare ingredients. They penetrate deep into the skin. They treat the layers below your epidermis. They work in bettering hyperpigmentation. Also, wrinkles and acne.
3. Skin procedures
- Chemical peel. It involves using acids at stronger concentrations. It reduces the appearance of hyperpigmentation by removing the top layer of the skin. Deeper versions of it may produce more pleasing results. Chemical peels may work for age spots, sun damage, melasma, and blotchy skin.
- Laser peel. A laser peel treatment utilizes targeted beams of light. It lessens hyperpigmentation. There are two types of lasers. One belongs to ablative, and one is non-ablative. The first is the most intense, as they remove layers of your skin. The latter targets the dermis to promote collagen growth. Also, in tightening the face. Both destroy elements in our skin to ensure that new skin cells grow back tighter. Also, more even.
- Microdermabrasion. It works best on superficial scars. It is a procedure that treats hyperpigmentation that affects the epidermis only.
- Intense pulse light therapy. IPL therapy promotes collagen growth within the dermis. It is impressive for overall pigmentation issues. Especially flat spots. It may reduce the appearance of wrinkles, spider veins, and enlarged pores.
How Can You Prevent Hyperpigmentation?
For hyperpigmentation, the best thing you can do is focus on sun protection. Avoid direct sunlight and heat. It is primarily those peak hours of 10 am to 2 pm. Sit under a sun umbrella. Look for shades when you’re outdoors.
Apply SPF daily. Do not skip it even in winter to safeguard your skin against harmful UV rays. Besides sunscreen, you can use AHAs, BHAs, and retinol. The three will help regenerate and renew cells on the surface. In turn, it prevents pigment from setting in.
Also, cut touching, scratching, and picking at skin. It can exacerbate existing inflammation. It will only cause darker face pigmentation.
How Can You Prevent Melasma?
In preventing melasma, sun protection is also critical. Apply sunscreen daily. Do so even when you are indoors. Exposure to UV radiation and hormonal surges are two top melasma triggers. You can apply serums with antioxidants. Those such as vitamins C and E for added protection. It is done before your sunscreen.
Avoid hormone treatments. It is especially ones that involve estrogen. If you can’t, at least manage it. Avoid makeup or skincare that irritates your skin. Scented soaps, tanning beds, and waxing are all a no, too. All can exacerbate melasma.
Frequently Asked Questions About Melasma vs. Hyperpigmentation
1. Can kojic acid remove melasma?
Kojic acid is proven to be effective in melasma. Several studies back it. They affirms how it can lighten melasma. Also, how they can reduce pigmentation. All in in affected areas. It has melanin-blocking properties. Thus, it helps treat all types of hyperpigmentation. It includes those post-inflammatory and sun-induced.
2. What is the difference between hyperpigmentation and pigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation. It is the increased skin pigmentation in certain areas. It happens due to overproduction of melanin. Conversely, pigmentation simply refers to the natural coloring of the skin. It is influenced by the amount and distribution of melanin in the skin.
3. How to deal with hyperpigmentation on cheeks?
If you’re struggling with it, the best thing you can do is still apply sunscreen. It is even on cloudy days. Sun protection is critical. It prevents further darkening of hyperpigmentation. Also, use topical treatments. Look for those with hydroquinone, retinoids. Azelaic acid, or niacinamide aids too. These ingredients have proven effective in reducing hyperpigmentation.
4. What should you avoid with melasma?
Hormones mainly trigger melasma. It is best to avoid hormonal birth control. Some forms of hormonal birth control, particularly those with estrogen, might develop or worsen it. You can opt to discuss alternative birth control options. Do so with your healthcare provider. Also, minimize sun exposure. Cut tanning beds. Manage exposure to LED screens. Finally, ditch irritating soaps and skincare products.
And now you’re guided by how hyperpigmentation and melasma differ. If you’re struggling with one of the two, know that it is okay. Struggling with these skin conditions does not make you less of a person. Also, less beautiful, for that matter. We can always work on solving them. It is done with proper skincare solutions and procedures.
There are procedures that effectively solve melasma and hyperpigmentation. Lean on to a reputable medical spa. Aesthet House Medical Spa will amazingly treat your skin with much-needed beautification. Also, rejuvenation. We have a whole range of technology advanced beauty treatments that helps the two. All work to lessen your skin insecurities and reveal your prettiest state. Let’s get you booked.
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