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What is hyperpigmentation, why does it happen and how can it be treated?

Eucerin's medical manager shares insights into how hyperpigmentation occurs and how best to treat it

Dylan GriffithsMedical Manager at Eucerin
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What is hyperpigmentation, why does it happen and how can it be treated?
Written byDylan GriffithsMedical Manager at Eucerin
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Hyperpigmentation is a common skin concern and can cause distress when it is very noticeable. In this article Dylan Griffiths, Medical Manager and skincare expert at Eucerin, details the condition, introduces the key active in Eucerin’s clinically proven Anti-Pigment range, Thiamidol, and explains the science behind these innovative and effective products.

What causes an uneven skin tone?

An uneven skin tone is often the result of pigmentation issues such as hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is caused by increased Melanin production, our skin has specialised cells, called melanocytes, which produce our skin pigment melanin. Melanin gives skin its colour and some natural protection from sunlight, but over-exposure to sunlight, hormonal influences, ageing and skin injury or inflammation can cause an increase in melanin and trigger hyperpigmentation.

What are the different types of Hyperpigmentation?

Pigmentation spots such as age spots, also known as sun spots, are caused by exposure to the sun. For this reason, they appear mainly on body parts that are frequently exposed, such as the face, neck, décolleté, hands and arms. They tend to be small, darkened patches of skin.

Melasma is a condition where larger patches of hyperpigmentation develop mainly on the face. Although it can affect both men and women, melasma is most common in women and is thought to be triggered by changes in hormone levels. Melasma occurs in 50% of pregnant women in the UK and in 10-25% of women taking oral contraceptives, and so it is sometimes referred to as “the mask of pregnancy”.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs when a skin injury or trauma heals and leaves a flat area of discolouration behind. It’s commonly found among acne sufferers and can also be caused by cosmetic procedures, such as laser treatment.

What are the different triggers of Hyperpigmentation?

1. Sun exposure is the number one cause of hyperpigmentation, as it triggers the production of melanin in the first place. Melanin acts as your skin’s natural sunscreen by protecting you from harmful UV rays, which is why people tan in the sun. But excessive sun exposure can disrupt this process, leading to hyperpigmentation. Sun exposure can also exacerbate and darken existing hyperpigmentation.

2. Hormonal influences are the main cause of melasma, thought to occur when oestrogen and progesterone, the two key female sex hormones, stimulate the overproduction of melanin when the skin is exposed to sunlight. 

3. As the skin ages, the number of melanin-producing cells, known as melanocytes, decreases. The remaining cells increase in size, however, and their distribution becomes more focused. These physiological changes explain the increase of age spots in those over the age of 50. 

4. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs following skin injury and inflammation, e.g. cuts, burns, chemical exposure, acne, Atopic Dermatitis and Psoriasis. The skin is left darkened and discoloured after the wound has healed.

How to prevent and reduce existing pigmentation?

Sun protection is the most significant step that you can take in helping to prevent hyperpigmentation in the first place. It is important to remember that the sun’s rays affect the skin even on cloudy days, and so it is vital that you give your skin the daily protection that it needs.

While prevention is best, The Eucerin Anti-Pigment range as been clinically proven to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and to prevent their reappearance with regular use.

Eucerin’s Anti-Pigment Technology

The exclusive active ingredient of Anti-Pigment, Thiamidol®, acts directly to reduce melanin production in skin – the root cause of hyperpigmentation. It works by inhibiting the enzyme, tyrosinase. In the past, formulas had been tested on mushroom enzymes, but the Eucerin R&D team insisted on testing the actives on human enzymes as a more accurate measure of their potential effectiveness. Thiamidol is the first inhibitor on the market to be developed with human tyrosinase.

Of 50,000 substances tested in the Beiersdorf laboratories, Thiamidol® was by far the most effective agent and set new standards in reducing the signs of hyperpigmentation. The first results are visible after just two weeks of application, with continued improvement demonstrated over 12 weeks*.

In a recent study on a skin care regimen with Thiamidol to effectively reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation in patients with resolved acne. Clinical grading demonstrated a significant improvement in skin evenness in 90% of patients after 12 weeks, and 100% of patients stated that their dark spots (PIH) were less pronounced after 12 weeks.

Dylan GriffithsMedical Manager at Eucerin
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