Sunday, October 10, 2010

How to Prevent Pigmentation


Skin pigmentation disorders can take several forms. Those with a history of excess sun exposure can develop brown, black or gray oval-shaped skin lesions called age spots. Chronic acne sufferers frequently have dark spots on the face once the acne has cleared. Additionally, hormonal imbalances from pregnancy and oral contraceptive use can result in the occurrence of blotchy patches of darker skin in some women. While various cosmetic procedures can treat these skin discoloration issues, certain precautions can be taken to prevent their onset or reduce their severity when they occur.

Step 1

Protect your skin from the sun and avoid excess sun exposure. The ultraviolet rays of the sun induce the skin's pigment-producing cells to become overactive and dispense excess pigment. This can exacerbate existing pigmentation disorders and create new ones. recommends that you limit the time you spend in the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as the sun's rays are most intense at this time. Additionally, use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and wear protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat and a long-sleeved shirt, when outside.

Step 2

Add a bleaching cream to your skin care regimen. New York City dermatologist Dr. Amy B. Lewis recommends using a skin lightening agent, such as hydroquinone, to prevent and treat hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone blocks the enzyme tyrosinase, a necessary component in the production of skin pigment. This will keep new pigment deposits from forming while existing discolorations are flushed out of the skin through the skin cell renewal process. Look for an over-the-counter product that contains up to 2 percent hydroquinone.

Since some people have allergic reactions to this medication, conduct a patch test prior to use. DermNet NZ, the New Zealand Dermatological Society website, recommends that you apply a small amount of the medication to the skin and wait 24 hours. If no irritation occurs, use the product as directed.

Avoid benzoyl peroxide products if you have a darker skin tone. The antibacterial medication benzoyl peroxide is commonly used to control acne. However, if you have darker skin, the irritation caused by the medication can prolong the duration of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation---the dark spots left behind by acne blemishes. Talk to your dermatologist about prescribing a topical retinoid such as adapalene or tazarotene to control your acne, as these products are less irritating to the skin than benzoyl peroxide, notes the American Academy of Dermatology. Use the product as directed to avoid adverse effects.

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