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Hyperpigmentation as We Age


I started to notice an increase in freckles and two very small melasma patches on my forehead. It was as if overnight my face was changing. Alarming, yes, because my complexion and décolleté were always flawless. This occurrence and the impact of dealing with perimenopausal skin required a skin check up with my dermatologist.


More common as we age, hyperpigmentation “occurs when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin color, forms deposits in the skin,” according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. For both hyperpigmentation and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, melanin overproduction may result in darker scarring, sunspots, and post pimple acne marks.


To further my understanding about the causes of this discoloration issue I reached out to ask noted board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Hope Mitchell of Mitchell Dermatology. “Skin changes as women age, especially hyperpigmentation or dark spots. This can be attributed to hormonal shifts that may begin in a woman’s 40s, combined with unprotected sun exposure. Many women are also troubled with a resurgence of acne or pigmentation from perimenopausal induced hormonal acne. Interestingly, the visible light emitted from daily usage of devices like cell phones and computers can also produce darker and more sustained hyperpigmentation, particularly in darker skinned individuals,” explains Dr. Mitchell.


While being mindful of the types of products I apply to my body to counter toxic buildup, I fall into the camp of coupling alternative solutions with prescriptive treatments. It’s essential to underscore that “natural, plant-based, or organic” does not necessarily mean tolerable or effective. Further, as you age your relationship with your skin health provider becomes that much more important.


“We cannot completely avoid hyperpigmentation; however, studies have shown that sun protection alone may improve hyperpigmentation. Further, greater improvements may be achieved when sunscreen is combined with retinol, niacinamide, kojic acid, azelaic acid and brightening agents like vitamin C,” says Dr. Mitchell.


From the discovery of my skin changes last year to implementing a corrective action plan, I have eventually realized a significant improvement in my complexion. The treatment process I selected requires diligence and consistency, and sunscreen is a daily application. I encourage you to determine your optimum course of action and love your skin again.

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