What Can I Do About Pigmentation
look into the mirror, do you notice brownish patches
on your face, especially on the cheeks, nose, chin
and upper lip? If you do, then you may have
pigmentation, a fairly common skin condition which
mostly affects women of reproductive age.
What causes it?
The cause of this condition is unknown, although
several triggers have been identified.
People with darker skin tones have a greater
tendency to develop this condition, as do those with
a family history of pigmentation. Medications like
anti-seizure drugs, also increase the risk of
But the most common causative factor for
pigmentation is excessive exposure to the sun's
ultraviolet (UV) light. Avoiding over-exposure to UV
light and diligently using sunscreen when you go out
will help prevent the condition in the first place,
and can stop pigmentation from getting worse.
Can I get rid of it?
Yes, there are several treatments that can help rid
you of those unsightly patches.
If your symptoms are the result of oral
contraception or HRT, pigmentation may improve once
you stop taking these medications.
There are also creams available that can help treat
Hydroquinone (a skin-lightening agent) is often on
the list of ingredients in these creams. Other
ingredients that increase the effects of
hydroquinone may also be present. These include
glycolic acid, corticosteroids and tretinoin, as
well as azelaic and kojic acid. Some dermatologists
may advocate a chemical peel or laser surgery to
treat the condition.
Importance of antioxidants
For those prone to pigmentation, even a little
sunlight can trigger a fiare-up.
Researchers are now realising the power of
antioxidants in protecting the skin from the
damaging effects of UV light.
Two nutrients renowned for their antioxidant
properties are vitamins C and E.
Supplementing the diet with 400 mg of vitamin E a
day has been found to reduce the damaging effects of
UV light as well as improve skin texture.
Even brief exposure to UV light can cause a drastic
reduction in the level of vitamin C in the skin.
Topical applications of vitamin C are only of
minimal benefit as it immediately reacts to oxygen
in the environment and loses its antioxidant
properties. However, research is being done to
produce newer formulations that may successfully
deliver both vitamin C and E directly into the skin.
It must be noted that vitamin C can be obtained
through vegetables and citrus fruits.
Supplements are an option for those who are unable
to acquire enough in their diet.
Beta-carotene, another powerful antioxidant, has
been found to be effective in fighting the effects
of sun damage on skin.