Dealing With Hyperpigmentation
What are hyperpigmentation marks? Oh, how I wish I didn’t know. I hadn’t heard the word “hyperpigmentation” until I was about 21 and I distinctly remember thinking, “Glad that doesn’t happen to my skin.” But then in a Odyssey-like spin to thrill the gods, I turned about 25 and bam — I started suffering from acne scarring.
My personal skincare journey has been an interesting one and after years of blogging, I feel like there is a lot of content out there about my struggles with my own skin. From my clear devotion to Mario Badesu’s line of skincare products to how I protect my skin in the summer (without breaking out), I have been very open when it comes to skincare and now that I’m dealing with acne scarring, I want to continue to pursue that precedent. So hey, let’s get vulnerable about hyperpigmentation!
Hyperpigmentation is essentially acne scarring. It’s the discoloration or darkening of the skin in a specific area and while it can present itself in a myriad of ways, for me, I experience this discoloration/darkening after a pimple. Back when I was younger and wasn’t yet dealing with hyperpigmentation, I would develop a pimple, pop it, and then it would take a few days to heal up. Nowadays, I almost always have a small spot of discoloration left in the pimple’s wake (even though I no longer succumb to popping… usually).
Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels
You might be wondering: Why all of a sudden does hyperpigmentation happen? Especially for me, I was confused, as I hadn’t dealt with scarring up until this point in my life. I wondered: What changed with my skin that caused this issue? Well, the answer lies in twofold: aging and the skin’s melanin levels.
Hyperpigmentation happens when your levels of melanin are higher than what’s considered normal. Since spending ample time in the sun can increase melanin (acne breakouts can, too), logic shows that discoloration often happens after either issue.
What are hyperpigmentation scars?
Hyperpigmentation refers to the scars left on the skin after an acne breakout. However, hyperpigmentation can occur after any type of lesion outbreak, including chicken pox. The original lesion will heal, but leave behind a scar typically categorized by a discoloring. It may look like a dark spot against your regular complexion. While we call it “a scar,” hyperpigmentation does not have to be permanent. In fact, it can be reversed, though it may take up to a year to reverse the effects of hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation does not just occur from acne, however. Did you know that hyperpigmentation can also occur from anything — any lesion — that you scratch or pick? Mosquito bites, various bug bites, or any other lesion you can scratch, pick, or pop can result in hyperpigmentation. As if you needed more of a reason not to scratch or pick mosquito bites or pop those pesky black heads. Acne, black heads, and white heads that are popped/scratched/or picked are more likely to result in hyperpigmentation. Girl, it’s not worth it.
Are hyperpigmentation marks permanent?
Hyperpigmentation, as stated above, does not have to be a permanent mark. The effects of hyperpigmentation can in fact be reversed, especially with a proper skincare treatment and regimen. Without taking care of hyperpigmentation, the discoloration can, however, last up to a year.
Are freckles hyperpigmentation?
Freckles are a specific type of hyperpigmentation. Did you know you cannot be born with freckles? Actually, freckles are the result of sun exposure in a specific area of the skin. The more a specific area of your skin is exposed to the sun (ie., your nose or cheeks), the more likely you are to develop freckles, the melanin’s reaction to sun exposure.
Freckles occur when melanocytes — pigment-producing cells that give your skin its color — attempt to prevent your skin from sun damage. This results in an unusual deposit of melanin, which is responsible for your skin’s pigment. The unusual deposits collect in the skin and produce the appearance of freckles.
Are moles hyperpigmentation?
Moles are not the same as hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation refers to a dark spot on the skin, a discoloration due to the extra depositing of melanin in the skin. A mole is an actual growth on the skin. A mole will usually be raised, be dark brown or black in color, and may have a hair growing out of it.
Why does a mole occur? Moles occur when cells in the skin grow in a cluster rather than growing throughout the skin. Moles are also made up of melanocytes, like freckles (though freckles are not raised growths on top of the skin). After sun exposure, moles might change. Some changes moles may endure include darkening or growing. Moles can be perfectly normal. The average adult may have anywhere from 10 to 40 moles. Despite the normalcy of moles, it is important to be cognizant of moles, taking note of any changes in moles that may occur over time. This is because there is a stark difference between moles and the development of melanoma. A regular mole is harmless but a mole that has grown or is irregular in shape could be malignant.
Does hyperpigmentation lead to skin cancer?
There are different kinds of moles. Congenital nevi moles are moles that people are born with. About one in every 100 people are born with congenital nevi moles. Unfortunately, these moles have a higher likelihood of developing into melanoma — AKA skin cancer.
What should you be checking for in order to prevent or catch melanoma? According to Web MD, freckles and moles with a diameter of more than a pencil eraser should be checked out by a dermatologist. Any freckles or moles that are larger than a pencil eraser or irregular in shape should be checked out by a dermatologist as they have a higher likelihood of being melanoma.
Hyperpigmentation does not lead to skin cancer. Moles and freckles can be indicators of skin cancer, most especially if they are larger than a pencil eraser, ever-changing, and irregular in shape. Discoloration of the skin is not an indicator of melanoma, therefore hyperpigmentation does not lead to skin cancer.
Are acne scars hyperpigmentation?
Acne and pimples can cause hyperpigmentation. Acne breakouts do not always cause hyperpigmentation, of course. Any lesion that leaves behind a dark spot, categorized by a discoloration of the skin is hyperpigmentation. If you have a breakout and it leaves behind a dark spot, this is hyperpigmentation and it can be treated.
Can hyperpigmentation be reversed?
Yes! Hyperpigmentation can be treated with a concentrated skincare routine and therefore, the effects of hyperpigmentation can be reversed. The key to treating hyperpigmentation is to start treating it right away: the faster you begin treating hyperpigmentation scars, the more likely the scars are to respond to treatments faster.
When treating hyperpigmentation, the most important thing is to find treatments that encourage cell turnover. What you want to do in order to heal and get rid of hyperpigmentation scars is to encourage your skin to rid dead cells and turnover new cells. For this reason, collagen, vitamin E, and pine tree bark extract are also great options for healing the effects of hyperpigmentation. They reduce sun damage and encourage your skin cells to grow and have more turnover.
How can you treat acne scarring at home?
Which ingredients help to treat hyperpigmentation? Vitamin C, licorice root, and kojic acid are known hyperpigmentation treatments. For me personally, I use a Vitamin C serum from Mario Badescu once in the morning and once at night. This is what I found works for me but something else might work for you.
Retinol also encourages cell turnover but for me personally, I feel more comfortable recommending natural treatments. Before trying retinol to heal your acne scarring, check out the natural, organic benefits of licorice root and vitamin C. Why are licorice root and vitamin C so important to treating hyperpigmentation? I love my vitamin C serum so much because it has a natural brightening agent. It is essential for collagen production, which means it encourages cell turnover, but it also neutralizes free radicals in the skin, making skin look younger and smoother and reversing sun damage. When you apply vitamin C topically, it allows your skin to retain more water, improving brightness, tone, and texture.
Aside from topical treatments, there is a lot you can do in order to prevent and fade acne scars. Some of this can be done with your diet. Eat a diet that is rich in natural vitamin C — guava, kiwi, oranges, papaya, strawberries, grapefruit, pineapple, and mango. But believe it or not, fruit is not the only food rich in natural vitamin C. You can also combat and fade acne scars by eating a diet rich in the following foods that aren’t fruit: black currant, green and red peppers, kale, parsley, broccoli, brussel sprouts, peas, and cauliflower.
Here are a few other things you can do in order to protect your skin from scarring: avoid the sun when it’s strongest (from 10 am to 3pm), wear protective clothing including sunglasses and hats, and use sunscreen. For more information on how to protect your skin during the summer, check out my recent blog post on summertime skincare here!