Hyperpigmentation, or darkening, can be a result of any type of skin trauma- a breakout, a bug bite, or even an area you scratched or picked a few times. That, and exposure to the sun. Find out the easiest ways to prevent and treat discoloration.
Tip 1: Hands Off!
As tempting as it might be to scratch a mosquito bite or squeeze a stubborn blackhead, think back to your mother's warning - "Don't pick!" - and pay attention. Scratching and picking at a spot will only increase the inflammation that's responsible for skin discoloration. The more you mess with it now, the worse it'll look later.
Tip 2: Head to the Drugstore
The sooner you treat hyperpigmentation, the faster it will fade, so begin using skin-brightening products as soon as a wound has healed. Start at the drugstore. Ingredients like vitamin C, licorice root, and kojic acid help reduce hyperpigmentation by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for the formation of skin-darkening melanin. Other ingredients to look for include such patented agents as pine tree bark extract and growth factors, which reverse sun damage by encouraging cell turnover.
Tip 3: Maximize Moisturization
While your primary goal with hyperpigmentation is to lighten the dark spots, an effective over-the-counter product should contain ingredients that benefit the skin in other ways. In addition to addressing the pigment issues, a good product will have moisturizing agents like glycerin or hyaluronic acid, and maybe even a retinol to boost cell turnover.
Tip 4: Ask a Dermatologist
If OTC remedies aren't getting rid of the dark spots, it's time to call in the pros. Considered the gold standard among dermatologists, prescription-strength hydroquinone is the most effective treatment for stubborn skin discoloration because it slows the production of pigment.
That being said, in high concentrations hydroquinone can cause sun sensitivity and may bleach the skin, so you need to be sure your dermatologist is monitoring the treatment closely.
Tip 5: Go High Tech
Depending on how deep the hyperpigmentation is and what product you're using, it can take up to three months for your dark spots to fade completely. If topical solutions aren't fixing the problem, you may want to talk to your dermatologist about more aggressive methods, like laser treatments or chemical peels.
Tip 6: Prevent Future Dark Spots
If your skin is prone to hyperpigmentation, you'll probably get dark marks again. Still, you can take steps to minimize future damage. First of all, you should protect yourself against the triggers: Use acne medications to fight off pimples, and bug spray to prevent bites, and treat acne and bug bites as soon as possible. Finally, the importance of sun protection can't be stressed enough. You must wear sunblock daily on exposed areas.