Hyperpigmentation & its Causes
Melanin is the natural pigment molecule in our body. There are different types of melanin such as eumelanin and pheomelanin. Our natural skin tone is an expression of the type and amount of melanin that we have.
Pigmentation is a problem which occurs when some parts of the body generate more melanin than the surroundings, which makes them appear as dark patches.
Melasma is also a type of hyperpigmentation which has further underlying causes (still under study) such as hormonal issues apart from sun exposure. It appears mostly in the areas of the face which are the cheeks, nose bridge, forehead and chin. Other types include sun spots and age spots. To enumerate them, the basic causes of pigmentation are:
However, whatever the underlying cause, the outcome is increased presence of melanin in patches.
Most Indians fall in range of type III to type V on the Fitzpatrick scale of skin tones. This means that we generally have darker skin. The thing with darker skin is that it has a higher ability to fight off damage caused by the sun through darkening and generation more melanin. The pigment provides natural sun protection factor (SPF) which is why it is generated by the body as a defense mechanism. While lighter tones tend to get sunburnt, darker skin tones tend to tan.
Hence, regular use of sunscreen is the best way to avoid pigmentary problems.
The ultraviolet rays from the sun lead to certain changes in existing melanin and may lead to generation of melanin which appears as patches of pigmentation. In the case of melasma, it may also be due to hormonal reasons.
UV A rays generally lead to changes in the color of existing melanin and these changes are immediate and also tend to be more temporary in nature. UV B rays lead to melanogenesis, or the generation of new melanin by the body. These changes appear 2-3 days after the exposure event and tend to be long term in nature. Melanin is accumulated in the epidermis and dermis (deeper) layers of the skin.
So, in case you are suffering from such dark patches on the skin, are in Mumbai and are looking for a solution to reverse them, this page is for you.