By Dr. Teo Wan Lin, Consultant Dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, Singapore
Living in a place like Singapore, we are exposed to more ultraviolet radiation than most other regions across the globe. Over long periods of time, however, this radiation can cause our skin to undergo a form of discoloration, which is also known as pigmentation. Pigmentation is irritating, and can even be potentially disabling in a professional context. Before dealing with treatment for pigmentation directly, it is important to understand the underlying processes that cause pigmentation.
The Causes of Pigmentation
The colour of skin is a direct result of the amount of melanin pigment present in our skin. Pigmentation, put simply, is caused by an increase or a decrease in the amount of melanin produced by our skin. However, they are not all the same.
As mentioned, one very common cause of pigmentation is prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Pigment spots caused by UV radiation usually occur on one’s face, arms, and legs—areas of skin which are persistently exposed to sunlight.
here are other forms of pigmentation. Besides this, another form of pigmentation is Melasma, which is found most commonly in pregnant women, as well as women taking contraceptives. Due to a surge in hormones, large, dark and irregularly-shaped areas can be formed. While not commonly known, pigmentation can also arise from irritation by unsuitable cosmetics or medications.
Hence, the following groups of people are more susceptible to pigmentation, and should therefore take preventive steps against pigmentation:
People of fairer skin types
People with a family history of pigmentation.
People who are exposed to the sun in day-to-day work
People on medicines that alter hormones
The list above is by no means exhaustive. A dermatologist will be able to accurately diagnose the cause of the pigmentation after a thorough skin examination.
Preventive Steps against Pigmentation
While pigmentation cannot be directly prevented, one effective prevention method is avoiding direct exposure to the sun. Given that exposure the sun is an important cause of pigmentation, using sunscreen lotion regularly helps immensely in avoiding pigmentation before it happens. Be sure to purchase sunscreen lotion with a minimum SPF of 50 for optimal effectiveness. The Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals SunProtector™, for example, is a broad-spectrum SPF 50/PA++ sunscreen that also regenerates and soothes sensitive skin.
Additionally, personal hygiene is important in preventing pigmentation. The onset of pigmentation can be slowed or even avoided by regularly keeping your face clean and oil-free. Dermatologist-formulated and tested skin cleansing products, such as in-house brand Dr. TWL Dermaceutical’s proprietary cosmeceuticals, will help in this aspect. For instance, products such as Vitá C Gold™ Serum and Radiance Fluidé™ Hydrating Emulsion contain skin brightening agents such as stabilised Vitamin C and Niacinamide, which also boosts skin immunity and regulating oil flow, ensuring that your skin stays healthy, firm and clean.
Treatment for Pigmentation
If you want to eliminate existing pigmentation spots, your best course of action would be to immediately visit a dermatologist. Depending on the underlying cause, pigmentation can be successfully treated by a dermatologist with advanced laser treatments, chemical peels using glycolic acids, as well as prescription-only lightening creams in various combinations.
To establish a proper treatment, the patient’s skin must be examined by our dermatologist, who will customize a plan thereafter for treatment. Early treatment can prevent worsening or late stages where treatment may be more difficult.
Dr. Teo Wan Lin, founder and medical director of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, is an accredited dermatologist specialising in medical and aesthetic dermatology. She integrates her artistic sensibility with her research background and specialist dermatologist training, by means of customised, evidence-based aesthetic treatments using state-of the-art machines, injectables (fillers and toxins) which work synergistically with her proprietary line of specialist dermatologist-grade cosmeceuticals Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals.