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Types of Facial Hyperpigmentation, Causes and Treatments

· Facial Hyperpigmentation & Melasma · Comments Off on Types of Facial Hyperpigmentation, Causes and Treatments

One of the most common complaints I hear from patients is about facial hyperpigmentation.  These are the spots that range in color from tan, brown or dark brown.  There are several causes of facial hyperpigmentation, but the most common that I see is melasma.

What causes melasma?

Melasma is caused by increased amounts of pigment and not an increase in the number of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes), like in photodamage or sun-induced brown skin lesions.  Melasma typically affects the mid-forehead, eyebrows and cheeks.  It usually spares the sides of the forehead, eyelids and nasal folds.

Melasma affects both light and dark-skinned individuals and often leads to significant psychological distress.

The cause of melasma is not entirely understood, but it has been associated with hyperestrogenism (from pregnancy and oral contraceptives) and autoimmune thyroid disease.

What is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation?

Another type of facial hyperpigmentation is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.  In this case, it is essential to correct underlying the causes like acne and eczema.   Other causes can be NSAIDS like torolac (not ibuprofen ) or minocycline.  Diabetes can bring about hyperpigmentation because insulin is a growth factor that can cause skin tags and facial acanthosis nigricans (dark thickening of the skin), and pigmentary demarcation lines.  Inflammation is also caused by too much skin irritation.

Protection from the sun is part of preventing and treating facial hyperpigmentation

As with melasma, the first step against post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is photoprotection (sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and sun-protective clothing).  Ultraviolet light and visible light can induce redness and hyperpigmentation.  Any visible light, for example, light coming through a window, can cause hyperpigmentation.  Sunscreen alone, three times a day, decreases the pigmentation score by 26% after three months.

It is also important to protect against visible light by using a tinted sunscreen that contains iron oxide.  I carry many cosmetically elegant tinted sunscreens in the office, such as the Avene compact, Revision Intellishade, Dermatology Boutique BB cream and ISDIN.  Tinted sunscreens are favorable since the white hue from the physical sunscreens is masked.

Year-round melasma treatment

The hallmark of effective melasma treatment is to start a hydroquinone-based treatment.  Hydroquinone is the number one skin-lightening agent.  Other products can be added, including vitamin C, azelaic acid, tretinoin and arbutin.  There can be side effects, including irritation or allergy or unwanted halo hypopigmentation.  The risk of irritation increases with the addition of some of these ingredients.

Some patients are concerned about using hydroquinone, but these concerns are unwarranted.  No human cancer has been reported from topical hydroquinone.  Typically, I prescribe hydroquinone (Obagi) in combination with tretinoin.  A daily regimen of this combination for 12 weeks is best done in the summer.

So the cycle depicted in the graphic below is to use a daily regimen during the summer months and decrease to weekends only during the fall.  I have my patients take a hydroquinone holiday in the winter and start again on weekends during the spring.   From fall to spring, I recommend a non-hydroquinone medication such as cysteamine (Cyspera), tranexamic acid and continued use of tretinoin.

Dr. Golomb's recommended treatment cycle during the year for melasma

In my office store, we have a number of very effective hydroquinone alternatives.  They include Cyspera (cysteamine), which is applied for a brief period and washed off.  This gives a definite improvement in melasma.  Other alternatives include Arbutin, tranexamic acid and Ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

Adding in-office procedures takes your treatment to the next level.  I recommend my BBL HERO device with at-home triple combination cream (hydroquinone, tretinoin and hydrocortisone) to provide excellent results.  Photorejuvenation with the BBL (or IPL) can cause rebound hyperpigmentation when used alone without the at-home topicals.  Following a BBL treatment with Laser Genesis facial toning increases success.  Both the BBL and facial toning require the prescription cream combination and two to three treatments are recommended.

We also offer several other procedural interventions, including chemical peels, microneedling and the Clear+Brilliant laser treatment.

Along with Mylene, my laser technician, and Bianca, one of our aestheticians, I can offer a number of therapies for acquired facial hyperpigmentation, which is a persistent and relapsing dermatologic complaint.

See A Trusted Dermatologist

Dr. Cynthia Golomb is widely considered one of the top dermatologists in Hallandale Beach.  She welcomes patients for facial hyperpigmentation treatment from Aventura, Sunny Isles Beach, North Miami Beach, Golden Beach, Pembroke Pines and Hollywood, Fl.  Dr. Golomb is triple board certified in Dermatology, Dermatopathology and Micrographic Dermatologic Surgery (Mohs).

Schedule your cosmetic consultation online with Dr. Golomb to start your treatment for melasma or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.


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