Hyperpigmentation and Dark Circles
There are many reasons for dark circles; some include lack of sleep and iron. These can easily be reversed with a healthier lifestyle. However, some dark circles are stubborn and never seem to go away no matter how much rest or vitamins you take. If you feel this way; your dark circles may be caused by hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is a darkening of the skin. Learn if your dark circles are caused by hyperpigmentation and how to treat them. Remember the first step to reducing dark circles is learning it's cause.
What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition in which patches of skin become darker that the surrounding skin. This is caused by an excess production of melanin; the brown pigment that produces skin color. Hyperpigmentation can affect the skin color of any race however it is commonly seen in darker Asian, east Indian, middle eastern, Hispanic, or African skin tones.
Common forms of hyperpigmentation are brown spots, age spots, freckles, dark circles, and the mask of pregnancy. Here is a brief list of symptoms caused by hyperpigmentation:
- brown spots
- age spots
- dark circles under eyes
- mask of pregnancy
What causes hyperpigmentation?
Depending on the type of hyperpigmentation factors such as sun exposure, genetics, scarring, or even pregnancy cause hyperpigmentation.
Spots formed on older skin, often called age spots are hyperpigmentation from sun damage. Scarring due to abrasion, burns, acne, and other things can result in hyperpigmentation as well.
Genetics can also contribute to hyperpigmentation. The obvious signs of this are freckles. These are affected both by genetics and factors like sunlight or hormones. People of Indian descent also have a tendency to develop hyperpigmentation under their eyes.
Another form of hyperpigmentation is the mask of pregnancy. This is triggered by hormonal changes in women due to pregnancy. Symptoms are a darkening of skin on the face or abdomen. Birth control pills and other hormonal birth control methods may also cause this form of hyperpigmentation since the body mimics pregnancy. Usually this hyperpigmentation goes away after the hormones to resume their normal levels, which is after pregnancy or after stopping birth control pills.
How to treat dark circles caused by hyperpigmentation:
Although there are many over the counter products to treat dark circles caused by hyperpigmentation, you should visit your doctor beforehand to make sure you are diagnosed with hyperpigmentation.
Dark circles caused by hyperpigmentation are usually treated with hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is a commonly referred to as a bleach because it lightens the skin. However, it works to slow the production of melanin in the skin so dark spots fade to normal skin coloration.
Hydroquinone treats hyperpigmentation:
Hydroquinone is a skin lightening ingredient found in many products that remove dark circles caused by hyperpigmentation. Some of the many products containing hydroquinone are Lustra, Solaquin, and Melanex. The average concentration of hydroquinone is 4%. This is said to be the best formulation since it is strong enough to work but won't irritate the skin.
Dark circle treatments with higher concentration of hydroquinone are available by prescription only. Hydroquinone strengths can be as high as 10%; however these are thought to come with major risks like ochronosis (black spots on skin) and are thought to be carcinogenic. Many parts of Europe and Asia have banned higher concentrations of Hydroquinone.
Below are a list of brand name hydroquinone creams:
- Alphaquin HP
- Eldopaque, Eldopaque Forte
- Eldoquin, Eldoquin Forte
- Esoterica, Esoterica Sensitive Skin
- Glyquin, Glyquin-XM
- Melpaque HP
- Melquin HP, Melquin-3
- Nuquin HP
- Solaquin, Solaquin Forte
- Viquin Forte
Read more about Hydroquinone.
Other treatments for Hyperpigmentation:
New treatments for hyperpigmentation are laser treatments. They are highly effective but do not work for everyone. To see if a laser treatment is right for you ask your doctor to do a test spot on a hidden area. This test spot is important because on some people laser treatments work in reverse; instead of lightening your skin it darkens it.
A popular laser treatment is the q-switched ruby and other pigmented lesion lasers. They work to remove pigment without scarring. Hyperpigmentation can also be removed by using intense pulsed light or chemical peels.
If you are troubled by dark circles caused by hyperpigmentation you may want to look into the possible causes in order to treat them. Speak to a doctor before opting for skin lightening creams like hydroquinone or laser procedures. Remedies can be as easy as removing triggering factors such as overexposure to sunlight or birth control pills.
No matter the form of removal, the skin will not get better overnight; it will have to grow off after the medication balances the melanin production. This means that your skin will have to balance, renew itself and shed the over pigmented cells before you can see a difference. This can take as long as 6 months before you see results.