Does sunscreen prevent hyperpigmentation

Introduction and Symptoms

Hyperpigmentation is the skin condition where high levels of melanin cause the areas affected to become dark patches in comparison with the rest of the natural skin color. There are no harmful symptoms, but the uneven skin tone can be an embarrassment for those concerned with their appearance in public.

Risk factors or causes

There are a number of reasons why melanin (the compound in skin that determines its color/pigment) can be increased. Bodily injury and skin-disease can cause Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH). Hormonal changes during pregnancy is another major factor. Over-exposure to sunlight also results in excess production of melanin, thereby causing hyperpigmentation.

Treatments

Treatment preferences depend on individual need, as there are varied options. Sunscreens are infused with physical blockers like zinc oxide. Those with chemical blockers are just as effective but may irritate the skin. Sunscreens must be broad spectrum, which means they protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. Hydroquinone is one of the most common substances used topically to treat hyperpigmentation. It must be prescribed by a healthcare practitioner and used according to specifications, as misuse of hydroquinone can lead to harmful side effects. Azelaic acid is also an effective treatment option. However, clinical studies and practical research conducted with patients have proven that the use of azelaic acid is more effective when combined with a corticosteroid like clobetasol 0.05%. Retinoids include tazarotene 0.1%, and adapalene 0..3%, with the former being proven to bring better results. Chemical peels are acids that are used to remove the uppermost layer of the skin to produce even skin tone. Examples are salicylic acid 20-30%, and glycolic acid 20-70%. Laser treatments are also available, such as the low-fluence Q-switched Nd:YAG laser, which precisely target each affected area of the skin.

Self care

You can personally control hyperpigmentation by employing some simple techniques, as long as your case is not so critical as to require a doctor visit. Application of natural remedies like aloe Vera, cucumber juice, and lemon juice on your skin are helpful and produce positive results. Skin-lightening creams that can be purchased in stores is an alternative. Sunscreens that protect skin from harsh UV rays can be applied daily when going outdoors. Protective clothing like trousers, long skirts, long sleeves, and hats can be utilized on extremely hot days. They won’t heal an already-existing case of hyperpigmentation, but they will prevent any further damage. Some drugs like Chloroquine for malaria, birth control pills, along with certain other medications, are known to increase melanin production in the skin. If possible, stop the use of such medication or switch to an alternative that doesn’t cause pigmentation side effects.

Drugs used in treating

Drugs used in treatment are generally grouped into Depigmenting Agents (like hydroquinone), Acne Agents (like azelaic acid), Keratolytic Agents (like trichloroacetic acid), Retinoid-like Agents (like tretinoin), and Corticosteroids (like hydrocortisone). They all perform varying functions that include skin bleaching, antibacterial effects, and anti-inflammation.