Pigmentation occurs when excess melanin is produced in spots on your skin and can be caused by a myriad of factors such as excessive sun exposure, hormone imbalances, inflammation, and injury to the skin.
Appearing on areas of the skin where it matters most, such as the face, neck, and décolletage, pigmentation is a difficult condition to treat.
Before attempting to treat your pigmentation, it’s important to know which type you have, and the causes. This is done through a consultation with your doctor who will examine your skin, and ask about your lifestyle and medical history.
Pigmentation can be caused by a wide variety of factors, including but not limited to sun damage, genetics, exposure to extreme heat, hormones, and inflammation.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the contributing factors to your pigmentation:
One of the most common forms of pigmentation in Asians which affects women more than men. Melasma appears as large, brown patches that appear on the forehead, cheeks, and upper lip, giving your skin an uneven skin tone. It can be triggered by a combination of factors such as ancestry and genetics, hormonal changes, exposure to the sun without sufficient sun protection and certain medications such as birth control pills. Melasma is one of the most difficult to treat and while it cannot be cured completely, it can be controlled and improved with good sun protection, use of antioxidant products and regular professional treatments.
There are three types of pigmentation patterns in melasma:
Another very common form of pigmentation, freckles usually occur in brown or beige shades of flat small circles. Freckles often appear as a darker shade than the skin. They are sometimes caused by excessive exposure to sunlight, and especially affects women who have fairer skin. Freckles can also be hereditary.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is often seen as dark spots on the face after acne has resolved. Hence, PIH is sometimes mistaken for acne scarring.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is generally caused by trauma to the skin such as burns, excessive rubbing, rashes, or irritation to the skin caused by chemicals. Eczema is also known to cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Distinguished as light brown or black spots on your face, seborrheic keratosis bumps have a rough texture, look waxy, scaly and slightly raised.
These are typically found in elder women or those who have a family history of Seborrheic Keratosis.
A common form of pigmentation in people over the age of 40, solar lentigo happens when UV rays cause melanocytes in the skin to multiply. They not only appear on the face, but all areas of the body that have prolonged exposure to the sun.
Lightening creams are treatments that contain ingredients to help lighten pigmentation. These creams are available over the counter or through prescriptions. They’re usually applied once or twice a day to help lighten the skin over time but these will take a longer time to work.
Common Ingredients found in lightening products include:
Retinoids are useful in the topical treatment of pigmentation because they curb the production of melanin and speed up cell turnover. The most commonly prescribed form of retinoid is Tretinoin. You should use retinoids only as instructed by your doctor as overusing may cause irritation, excessive dryness and discolouration of the skin.
Chemical Peels use a stronger concentration of acids to treat the skin. They reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation by removing the epidermis. Chemical peels may not be the best option for you if you’re out in the sun on a regular basis, as they can cause your skin to be more sensitive to the sun’s rays and pigmentation may worsen if UV protection is not adequately applied.
The Mela Peel is effective for treating epidermal pigmented lesions such as sunspots, epidermal melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
It has 2 combined actions:
Using a combination of ultrashort pulse peak powers of a picosecond laser with the peak energies of a nanosecond Q-switched laser, Fotona Starwalker®️ MAQx picosecond laser system delivers higher pulse energy (1064 mm wavelength) as compared with Pico Lasers, thus has the ability to deliver faster results.
Minimally invasive, this FDA approved, patented MaQX pulse modalities produce powerful bursts of laser energy to:
The hyfrecator is used to rapidly and selectively destroy tissue by the passage of an electric current through the tip of s the hyfrecator as it touches the skin. This can be used to burn off the tissue and treat conditions like unwanted moles and seborrheic keratosis.
Skin-brightening supplements have risen to popularity as many people have started integrating supplements into their daily skincare regime to complement their topical products for enhanced results. This is especially in Asia where sun exposure is high and contributes to skin pigmentation and aging. They are usually formulated with concentrated doses of active ingredients and antioxidants that work from the inside out to provide both skin whitening and sun protection in each dose.
Some factors to consider:
At Fusion Medical, we have LM Soelle Snow Radiance Oral Whitening supplements which fulfil all these criteria. This oral supplement uses a combination of natural ingredients that acts both as a sunblock as well as lightens pigmentation.
Not all pigmentation can be prevented. Measures should be taken in our lifestyle and skincare regime to minimise the onset or worsening of pigmentation as the biggest culprit is sun exposure. One should try to minimise strong sun exposure and adopt sun protection measures with both topical and oral UV protection where possible.
It’s really important to consult with an experienced doctor who will be able to diagnose you correctly and recommend treatment protocols that are suitable for your skin type.
These treatments can range from topical creams to laser treatments such as the Fotona Starwalker laser. Post-treatment regimens are equally important to prevent recurring hyperpigmentation from forming on your skin.
We always recommend finding a clinic with experienced doctors, who are able to understand exactly which type of pigmentation you have, in order to deliver the best results possible for your skin discolouration.
Dr Wenus Ho is a family physician and a designated workplace doctor with more than a decade of clinical experience. She is also currently a postgraduate tutor for the Graduate Diploma of Family Medicine (GDFM) Training Program in the Yong Yoo Lin School of Medicine, Singapore....
Dr Amy graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2008 and has undergone various postings in emergency departments, inpatient wards and polyclinics. She found her calling in Family Medicine and went on to attain...
After graduating from Guys’, King’s and St Thomas’ School of Medicine in the United Kingdom, Dr Juliana went on to complete her Graduate Diploma in Family medicine at the National University of Singapore. She is currently pursuing her diploma in Occupational Medicine. Dr Juliana applies her...