What is hyperpigmentation?
Pigment is a dye also called melanin. It gives color to your hair, the iris of your eye and your skin. Pigment protects your skin against the UV rays that are in sunlight.
When you sit in the sun for a long time, the skin produces more pigment, among other things, so that the skin is better protected against burning. This is the natural protection mechanism of the skin, it can be compared to a protection factor (SPF) 3-4. A nice side effect of sunbathing is the color you get from it and you also get vitamin D.
However, too much sunbathing is not good for your skin: an overdose of UV radiation increases the risk of skin cancer and your skin ages faster. In addition, the cells that make pigment can become “confused”, causing pigment accumulations: dark spots on your skin or even patches of skin. We call these spots hyperpigmentation.
TYPES OF HYPERPIGMENTATION
There are different types of hyperpigmentation. Depending on the cause, hyperpigmentation is classified as follows.
Age spots (also called lentignes solaris) are very common. Most middle-aged people do have one or more of those brownish spots on the skin. These pigmentation spots arise mainly on sun-exposed areas of the body. They commonly appear on the face and hands. Unfortunately, these spots do not disappear on their own, even if the skin is less exposed to the sun. Age spots are also known as sunspots or liver spots.
Post-inflammatoryhyperpigmentation – spots or patches of darkened skin that appear after an inflammatory skin condition, such as acne or eczema. This form of hyperpigmentation almost always disappears on its own, but it can take a few months.
The Mask of Pregnancy (melasma) The spots mainly occur during pregnancy, hence the name. They are caused by the hormones. The spots are harmless and usually disappear after childbirth.
Purpura senilis is a condition that is sometimes confused with age spots. These are also dark spots that mainly occur in older people, but are not caused by an excess of pigment. These are small bruises that arise because the skin becomes less elastic with age.
It is better not to wait until pigmentation has developed, but pay attention to the health of your skin early on. Sun damage is “stored” in the skin. Damages incurred in your youth can cause problems later in life.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
The treatment of pigmentation spots therefore starts with protecting your skin against the UV radiation. When you go out in the sun and you use a sunscreen, don’t forget to apply your hands and face as well. Use sunscreen with a high protection factor and, for example, wear a cap or hat when you get full sun. Caution with the sunbed is also recommended.
The treatment of hyperpigmentation is reimbursed from the additional insurance if you have a referral from your family doctor or another specialist. Ask your health insurer about the reimbursement options.