Clear skin is everybody’s dream. While a concealer can take care of those spots on a temporary basis, options are available for a more permanent solution
Our skin gets its colour from a pigment known as melanin which is produced in the Melanocyte cells in the skin.
Excess and absence of this pigment results in various physical attributes. While excess is known as hyper pigmentation, an absence is known as hypo pigmentation.
According to Dr Radha Shah, consultant dermatologist, Apollo Hospital, Jubilee Hills, “The causes for hyper pigmentation could include tanning, diseases like acne, irritation with substances, use of perfumes, injuries and birth marks. While tanning is normal, sunburn may result in pigmentation. When it comes to hypo pigmentation the causes could include fungal infections, dry skin patches, trauma (especially burns), eczema, psoriasis and birth marks.”
According to Dr BS Chandrashekhar, chief dermatologist, Cutis Clinic, Bangalore, “Hyper pigmentation is characterised by brown spots turning black.” The different types of hyper pigmentation include sun tan, melisma, injury, solar meiosis etc. Freckles and sunspots are also types of hyper pigmentation. Dr Chandrashekhar says, “In certain cases freckles may be genetic but this is rarely seen among Indians.”
According to Dr Chandrashekar, “Vitiligo, pityriasis alba and albinism are types of hypo pigmentation. While Vitiligo is more common in children, pityriasis alba is a form of mild eczema and albinism is a genetic problem in which the skin becomes photosensitive.”
Talking about hyper pigmentation, Dr Chandrashekhar says, “Patients with hyper pigmentation are asked to avoid sunlight and are advised to use sunscreens and sun protection. It is important that the patient should apply the cream from 9am to 4pm as this is the time when the UV rays are the highest. One should re-apply every two hours. A common misconception is that sunscreen should be applied only when you are outside.” A SPF15-SPF30 sunscreen is sufficient. While buying a sunscreen one should buy a sunscreen that protects against both UV (causes pigmentation) and UVB (causes sun burns). Apart from this, certain creams with bleaching agents help.
Dr Radha adds, “Apart from bleaches and creams topical steroids may be advised. If nothing works then the patient may be advised chemical peels or laser. In case of hypo pigmentation topical steroids or certains psoralens along with UV rays (known as PUVA therapy) may be advised to help bring the colour back. If these fail than skin grafting is advised.”
On the reference to pigmentation being the sign of skin cancer, Dr Chandra-shekhar says, “This is more common in US and Australia as they have more sun exposure. In our country it is rare but if one feels that the spot has increased or there is itching or burning, you should visit a doctor.” Dr Radha agrees, “Although rare, it may be a sign of an underlying problem”