11 May 2022

Skin Science: Pigmentation

Normal skin colour is a mixture of the pigments melanin, oxyhemoglobin and carotene. The principal determinant of skin colour is melanin. Hypopigmentation is too little pigmentation and hyperpigmentation is too much pigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation is mostly the result of an increase in melanin in the epidermis (hypermelanosis). This hypermelanosis can either be due to an increase in the number of pigment cells (melanocytes), known as melanocytic hypermelanosis (e.g solar lentigos) or due to an increase of melanin in the pigment cells without an increase in pigment cells, known as melanotic hypermelanosis (e.g melasma).

Factors that play a role in pigmentation issues include auto-immune conditions, genetics, hormones, inflammation and most important UV exposure. Certain drugs can also play a role in pigmentation disorders.

Pigmentation issues are notoriously difficult to treat and are often recurring. The success of treatment often depends on the cause of the pigmentation. Hyperpigmentation, depending on the causes, is slightly easier to treat that hypopigmentation. Visit your doctor to find out about your type of pigmentation issues and possible treatment options.

My recommendations for skincare include:

  1. PROTECT the skin with sunscreen
  2. PREVENT pigmentation with antioxidants such L-ascorbic acid, resveratrol, tocopherol, green tea, niacinamide
  3. CORRECT or improve pigmentation with
    • tyrosinase transcription regulation such as retinoids
    • inhibition of tyrosinase activity with hydroquinone, arbutinin, kojic acid, liquorice root, azeleic acid,
    • melanin transfer inhibitors such as niacinamide and retinoids
Treatments to Consider:

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