Pigmentation is one of the most prominent factors when it comes to a person’s appearance, and unfortunately we often battle with having too much of it – or too little. Even celebrities suffer from it – like Lindsey Lohan, Eva Longoria and Gisele Bündchen. If you want to treat any pigmentation related issues that you have, you must first understand what the two most common issues involving pigmentation are and how they manifest themselves on the skin. While both conditions are harmless, they can be visually displeasing. Understanding the difference between the two will help you understand what exactly is happening with your skin and how it needs to be treated.
Simply put, hyperpigmentation is the problem of having too much pigmentation in an area of the skin while hypopigmentation is having too little. The former usually presents itself on the face as an excess of melanin in dark spots on any area of the body – though it usually is most prominent when it appears on the face. Hypopigmentation, on the other hand, is a lack of melanin in the skin, and incidentally can also be caused by many of the same factors that cause hyperpigmentation. It can present itself as albinism, vitiligo or as a result of other inflammatory or fungal skin issues.
Here are some of the common causes of both conditions:
- Sun exposure – in some people, this creates freckles on the skin
- Pregnancy or other hormonal fluctuations (due to birth control or other medication) – this type of hyperpigmentation creates large, splotchy discoloration in the skin
- Age – these are often called age spots or liver spots
- Acne, injury or trauma – this resulting pigmentation is called Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation or Post Inflammatory Hypopigmentation
If you think that all you need to combat pigmentation is just laser treatment, then think again. Not all lasers are created equal and there are different lasers created to combat different kinds of pigmentation. The most important thing for people to understand concerning both hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation is that both conditions are occurring in the skin at the chemical level, and rarely occur without an underlying reason. Because of this, you should always consult a qualified dermatologist who has been trained to look at your hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation holistically, and then decide on what the best course of action for you is.