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Understanding Hyper & Hypo Pigmentation

Understanding Hyper & Hypo Pigmentation

Understanding Hyper & Hypo Pigmentation
Pigmentation refers to the discoloring of the skin.  Our skin gets its color from a pigment called melanin, which is produced by specialized cells known as melanocytes.  Everybody has different levels of melanin, thanks to genetics.  When the body produces more melanin, the skin gets darker (hyperpigmentation).  When it doesn't produce enough melanin, the skin becomes lighter (hypopigmentation).  Both hyper- and hypo- pigmentation can be caused by genetics, skin disorders or injuries, but hyperpigmentation happens to almost everyone as they age due to repeated sun exposure.  The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays stimulate the production of melanin and can cause dark spots or patches to appear on the skin over time.  These are known as sun spot, age spots, or lentigines.  Hormonal changes can also cause hyperpigmentation.  During pregnancy many women develop dark patches on their face and body.  This condition is called melasma, and it often disappears on its own after giving birth.  Women who take birth control pills may also experience similar skin changes.  A crucial step to prevent further hyperpigmentation from developing is to apply sunscreen to your face and decollete any other affected area when you are in the sun. 
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