Hyperpigmentation: How to Prevent Age Spots and Sun Spots

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Hyperpigmentation refers to the darkening of certain areas of the skin. This is caused by the overproduction of melanin, a skin pigment. Hyperpigmentation causes dark spots called age or sun spots. Although harmless, these spots could be a nuisance to those who have it.

What Causes Hyperpigmentation

Excessive exposure to sunlight is the most common cause of hyperpigmentation. The sun’s rays will literally trigger the skin to produce more melanin. And this occurrence is common among those of Asian, Mediterranean, African, or Latin descent. Dark-skinned individuals are less susceptible to age spots.

Hyperpigmentation also occurs is when the melanocytes are hyperactive. When the melanocytes in the skin are hyperactive, dark spots will form on any part of the body – including the hands, neck and face.

Types of Hyperpigmentation

There are different types of hyperpigmentation. Freckles, solar lentigos/lentigenes and under eye dark circles are all caused by high levels of melanin. The same thing goes for pregnancy-induced melasma, a tan or stain. Solar Lentigenes is widely known as age spots, liver spots or sun spots. This condition is basically freckles caused by sun exposure.

Causes of Hyperpigmentation

Exposure to the sun’s harsh rays is the number one cause of age spots and sun spots. However, this condition runs in the family too. Ethnicity, hormonal changes and skin trauma could also lead to hyperpigmentation. Taking certain medications – such as antibiotics, hormonal treatments or anti-seizure drugs – could also trigger hyperpigmentation. Environmental factors could also contribute to splotchy skin. Finally, inflammation and skin conditions like acne vulgaris could also lead to hyperpigmentation.

Preventing Hyperpigmentation

Wear Sunscreen

The best way to prevent unsightly dark marks from developing on the face and body is to wear sunblock every day. No excuses. Ideally, you want to wear a sunscreen with SPF of 30. On top of that, wear a wide-brim hat and sunglasses to protect sensitive parts of the face from the sunlight.

If you are the beach, never head out without wearing sunscreen! Reapply sunscreen every hour and a half. Reapply frequently if you spend more time in the water. And don’t scrimp on the product either. Slather it on thick. Wait at least 30 minutes before heading out.

Exfoliate Your Skin Regularly

Make exfoliation a part of your skin care routine. Slough off dead skin cells using a face or body scrub at least twice per week. Eliminating the buildup of dead skin cells prevents hyperpigmentation. It also keeps the skin clear, smooth and younger-looking! Products will also absorb better if your skin is well-exfoliated! But don’t overdo it, otherwise the skin will become sensitive or inflamed. Always use face scrubs with super fine beads. Abrasive face scrubs could irritate the skin too.

For those with sensitive or mature skin, limit exfoliation to once or twice per week. For those with oily skin, exfoliate thrice per week.

Home Remedies to Treat Hyperpigmentation

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice contains mild fruit acids that boost cell turnover and increase collagen production. Saturate a cotton ball with lemon juice and apply on the affected area. Do this for six to eight weeks or until age spots disappear.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Just like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar also fades age spots! Just add a couple of drops of apple cider vinegar to a cotton ball and apply on the affected area.

Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe vera soothes dry, damaged skin and fades dark spots. Get your aloe vera gel fresh from the source for better results. Apply liberally on the affected area. The bioactive of aloe vera will stimulate cell growth and smooth out wrinkles too!

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