Hi, I am Dr Sangeeta Amladi and I am going to talk to you about Pigmentation.
What is pigmentation and how does it occur?
Pigmentation is a term we used to describe the dark spots or patches or even general darkening of the skin. In the upper layer of the skin, there are certain cells which are called pigment cells and these produce a certain pigment called melanin. This is evenly distributed in the skin and gives colour that we normally possess. We can get darkening of the skin due to many factors, both external and internal at any time of our lives. Most common cause of external pigmentation is ultraviolet radiations. And one of the commonest cause is a hormone, especially in women. Any of these factors can increase the pigment cells in the skin or actually activate the cell to produce more melanin.
What are the common types of Pigmentation?
There are many common types of pigmentation;
These often cause cosmetic problems and hence require treatment.
Freckles are the common response to sunlight. And you can see them as light brown spots on the face and the exposed parts of the body. They are often seen on the fair skin individuals and from very young ages. They can be effectively prevented by good sun screening habits.
Age spots, also called Lentigines are darker spots. And these are often seen as we grow older, over the age of 40
Melasma is a kind of pigment which shows up most commonly on cheeks in the form of brownish or the greyish brown patches which are sharply defined. They can also come up on the forehead or the chin. Two main factors causing melasma are the sunlight and the hormones. And it is more common in women. Very often, melasma occurs either during or post pregnancy.
Often we find pigmentation being left behind after we develop boils, other infections, eczemas, other allergies, injuries etc on the skin and this is something we called as Post inflammatory hyper pigmentation. It is left behind due to the inflammation that is left behind in the skin. There are certain perfumes, cosmetics and other allergens which can on their own leave dark patches on the skin and we call this pigmented contact om titis.
Another common cause of patchy pigmentation is ageing itself and this is because of the effect of ultraviolet radiations and sunlight on the skin. We often see the unevenness tone or little patchy dark spots and an alteration in texture so the skin gets a bit rougher. This we can prevent to a large extent through good sun screening habits which we should adopt at a very young age in life.
Last but not the least, the dark circles. These are the dark patches which we see under our eyes. The problem of dark circles is that they make us look dull and tired.
What is the right approach to treat pigmentation?
If you suffer from pigmentation, then you should be looking for comprehensive and holistic solutions to this problem. There are many different kinds of products, tropically prescribed medication, and chemical peels which when combined together can help us get rid of the superficial pigmentation. Ideally, it should be customized for you by your dermatologist after the detailed evaluation of your specific skin concern and then decide the best possible way to address it. If we need something deeper then there is a specific laser which called the Q switched andiac laser which is very safe and effective and specifically targets the Melanin in the skin without affecting the neighbouring areas and leaves the skin clear and flawless.
What are the everyday essentials to take care of your skin?
- The first mantra to really good skin care is to protect your skin using a sunscreen. You can use the sunscreen of SPF 15-30 or could be higher. However, the more important is how you apply it. A sunscreen must be applied to a thin film across the face and the exposed areas of the body and then left on for 15-20 minutes to settle it. If you tend to sweat a lot, you need to apply it after every 2-4 hours. And of course, you should apply a sunscreen when you are indoors because the ultraviolet radiations or even the visible light which is indoors can also affect your skin and cause pigmentation.
- A good cleansing regime is very important to keep your skin clean. Choose a cleanser which is formulated for your skin type dry, oily or normal. You can use this twice or thrice daily. If your skin is oily, you can use a toner for deeper cleansing.
- After cleansing your skin, you need to hydrate and this can be done using a moisturizer in the day time and sunscreen itself can be the moisturizer. At night, you can sue a night cream containing Vit- C and this will also help you to stay pigmentation free.
- A balanced diet, good sleep and exercise is very important in keeping your skin healthy. Incorporate foods in a diet which are rich in Vit- C and sun protecting agents like Beta Keratins and anti oxidants. For example red and orange fruits like carrot, tomatoes and other vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, spinach etc and omega rich foods such as fish
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