Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition characterized by dark spots on the face and body. It occurs when melanocytes -- the cells that produce pigment -- work overtime, forming deposits of excess melanin in the skin. A number of factors can trigger pigment overproduction, including heredity, sun exposure, hormones and skin injury.
There is no real cure for hyperpigmentation, though in some cases, the condition may fade on its own. Common treatments involve using topical bleaches or exfoliating creams to gradually lighten dark spots. Sun protection is a key factor in preventing existing spots from tanning and becoming more noticeable and preventing new spots from forming.
Wash your face with a mild, non-medicated cleanser. Rinse with tepid water, then pat your face dry with a clean cotton towel.
Apply glycolic acid lotion over your entire face. Glycolic acid is a non-abrasive exfoliant derived from sugarcane. On its own, it helps fade superficial discoloration by sloughing off the top layer of skin. It also provides a good base for hydroquinone, a topical bleaching agent. According to "The Dermadoctor Skinstruction Manual," glycolic acid allows the bleach to penetrate the skin more deeply.
Wait 20 minutes, then rub a small amount of 2 percent hydroquinone cream into the discolored areas of your face. Hydroquinone works by preventing melanin production. With regular applications, it will slowly lighten dark spots to match the surrounding skin.
Wash your hands carefully to avoid spreading the bleach to normal colored skin.
Apply an SPF 15 sunscreen or moisturizer.
Tips and Warnings
- Talk to your doctor before starting treatment to get personalized advice regarding product safety, proper dosing and use.
- According to "The Dermadoctor Skinstruction Manual," lightening dark spots on the face requires twice daily applications -- and a lot of patience. Though results vary, it can take six months to a year to see improvement.
- Glycolic acid lotion is typically sold over-the-counter in 5 percent to 10 percent concentrations. Resist the urge to start with the strongest formulation possible -- even low concentrations can be effective. Start low and gradually build up your tolerance.
Things You'll Need
- Cotton towel
- Glycolic acid lotion
- 2 percent hydroquinone cream
- SPF 15 sunscreen