What Can I Do About Pigmentation   

What Can I Do About Pigmentation

When you 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 developing melasma.

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 pigmentation.
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.

Happy reading,

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