4 Different Types of Pigmentation & How to Treat it (Naturally)
Types of pigmentation
Melanin refers to the brown pigment that produces the various shades and colours of human skin. Coloration or pigmentation is determined by the amount of melanin in the skin.
Without melanin, the skin would be pale with shades of pink caused by blood flow through the skin. Fair-skinned people produce very little melanin, darker-skinned people produce moderate amounts, and very dark-skinned people produce the most.
People with albinism have little or no melanin and thus their skin appears white or pale pink. Usually, melanin is evenly distributed in the skin, but sometimes people have spots or patches of skin with more melanin. This excess melanin is known as hyper pigmentation. There are several different types of hyperpigmentation, such as:
Ephelides, also known as freckles, are small brown spots that appear on areas of the skin most frequently exposed to the sun. Freckles are harmless and occur as a result of the overproduction of melanin. Freckles come from UV stimulation from frequent sun exposure and sunburns.
They can appear on anyone that does not protect themselves from the UV rays from the sun. Genetics are also partially responsible for this type of pigmentation showing up on the skin. People whose skin produces pheomelanin, aren’t protected from UV radiation and tend to have the following characteristics:
- Red or blonde hair
- Fair skin
- Skin that tans poorly
However, people whose skin produces eumelanin are protected from UV rays and generally have the following characteristics:
- Brown or black hair
- Darker skin
- Skin that tans easily
Solar lentigines (Sun spots)
This is also known as sun spots or age spots. This type of pigmentation occurs on areas most commonly exposed to the sun, such as the hands and face. The lesions tend to increase with age, making them more common amongst middle aged to older people. They can vary in size and are characterised by their dark appearance with irregular borders.
These lesions are caused by a marked increase in the number of pigment cells located in the superficial layers of the skin. A biopsy should be considered if a lesion develops a highly irregular border, changes in pigmentation, or changes in the thickness to rule out cancer. However, sun spots are benign in most cases.
Traditional treatments of this type of pigmentation include cryotherapy, skin bleaching, chemical peels and laser therapy.
Melasma is a common skin problem. It is identifiable by brown to gray-brown patches on the skin, usually on the face. It is commonly found on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin, and above the upper lip. It also can appear on other parts of the body that get lots of sun, such as the forearms and neck.
In terms of statistics, melasma is far more common in women, as just 10% of people who get melasma are male. People with darker skin and people who have a genetic history of this pigmentation disorder, are more susceptible to suffering from the condition.
The causes of melasma is not yet clear. Dermatologists believe it occurs when the color-making cells in the skin, called melanocytes, produce too much color. People of colour are more prone to melasma because they have more active melanocytes than people with lighter skin.
Common melasma triggers include:
Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun stimulates melanocytes in your skin. In fact, just a small amount of sun exposure can make melasma return after fading. Sun exposure is why melasma tends to worsen during the summer months. It also is the main reason why this pigmentation disorder frequently reoccurs in people who have had it.
Pregnant women often get melasma. When melasma appears in pregnant women, it is referred to as chloasma, or the mask of pregnancy. Medication which alters your hormones, such as birth control pills and hormone replacement medicine also can trigger melasma.
Skin care products
Melasma can worsen if you constantly use products which irritate your skin.
Post-inflammatory hyper pigmentation
Post-inflammatory pigmentation, refers to pigmentation following injury or an inflammatory skin disorder and mostly occurs in people with darker skin types.
It is caused by damage to the epidermis layer of the skin. Inflammation in the epidermis stimulates melanocytes to increase melanin production and to transfer the pigment to surrounding areas.
If the basal layer is injured, melanin pigment is released and subsequently trapped which causes the darker pigment to appear. Pigment may also be lost completely and appear as a pink or colourless area of the skin, as observed when scabs fall off.
Tips for managing pigmentation
One of the most common treatments for pigmentation is sun protection. Since sunlight triggers pigmentation and excess melanin production, it is important to wear sunscreen daily, even on cloudy days and especially after swimming or sweating.
Choose a sunscreen which offers a broad range of protection, a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more and zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to physically limit the effects of the sun’s rays on your skin.
Ultra Bee offers a natural sunscreen with 35% zinc oxide, as well as a natural face block with 50% zinc oxide, which provides maximum protection. Sunscreen should be applied 15 minutes before going out and reapplied at least every 2 hours.
Wear sun protective gear
Sunscreen alone will not protect you from the harmful rays from the sun. Wherever possible, you should seek shade and wear sun protective gear such as sunglasses and wide brimmed hats.
Use gentle skincare products
Choose natural products which will not sting or burn your skin, as these irritations tend to worsen the appearance of pigmentation.
Waxing may cause inflammation which can worsen pigmentation, so it is important to avoid waxing areas of the body affected by pigmentation. There are plenty of other hair removal methods which you can utilise.
How to treat pigmentation naturally
There is no shortage of treatments for pigmentation, from laser therapy to chemical peels. However, these treatments can be harsh on the skin and may actually worsen the condition.
The additional ingredients include lemon essential oil, which has powerful skin lightening properties and promotes a beautiful, even skin tone, by dissolving dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. The pigmentation creamed balm also contains peppermint oil, which helps to stimulate your skin and promote blood flow. It also has soothing properties and is very refreshing for the skin.
The pigmentation balm can be used as part of your skin care routine, in place of a moisturiser, as it is rich in natural oils