Pigment spots are usually a harmless skin condition in which patches of skin are darker in color than the normal surrounding skin. Pigmented spots are caused in the skin by overproduction of a pigment known as melanin. Pigmented spots are caused in the skin by overproduction of a pigment known as melanin.
On this page you will find the following information about pigment spots:
- What are pigment spots?
- Causes of pigment spots?
- What are the differences between birthmarks, freckles and liver spots
- How do you remove pigment spots?
- Tips when you have pigmentation spots
- The best products to reduce pigmentation spots
Dr. Francis Wu on pigment spots
Below, Dr. Francis Wu briefly explains the symptoms, causes, and solutions for unwanted spots.
Pigment is also called melanin. Melanin is made by pigment cells (melanocytes) using the amino acid tyrosine in the lower basal layer of the epidermis. Tyrosine is cleaved by an enzyme tyrosinase and depending on your skin type, eumelanin and pheomelanin are formed.
Eumelanin is brown-black and it protects us against ultraviolet light (photo-protective). Pheomelanin is yellow-red, photo-reactive and does not protect against ultraviolet radiation. Light-skinned people Fitzpatrick skin types 1 (red hair/blue eyes) & 2 (blonde hair/blue eyes) produce more pheomelanin and burn faster in the sun. Dark skin types 3-6 (dark brown black hair/brown eyes) have mainly eumelanin, evenly distributed in the skin and are resistant to the sun.
Still in the melanocytes, melanin is then packaged and transported in melanosomes. Via bulges in a melanocyte, the packed melanosomes leave to keratinocytes (a single melanocyte is roughly ‘connected’ to 40 keratinocytes). The movement of keratinocytes from the lower part of the epidermis to the surface results in a dark shade.
Pigmentation is an uneven distribution of locally over stimulated melanin
Tips when you have pigmentation spots
Below are tips from Dr. Francis Wu – dermatologist
Tip: stain prevention
Look closely at your skin. If you suffer from an underlying skin condition, you should treat it as best as possible to prevent new pigment spots.
Do you have a wound or healing spot? Then protect it well with sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Mineral sunscreen with titanium dioxide AND zinc oxide works immediately and gives your skin the least irritation.
Let wounds heal properly and stay away from that scab. We all know how tempting it is to scratch it off, but try to touch it as little as possible. If you really don’t succeed, you can safely cover the spots with a plaster.
Try to scratch as little as possible with itchy skin conditions.
Tip: Cleanse your face twice a day
There is a relationship between air pollution and pigmentation.
A German study showed that people from the Ruhr area (Randstad), who were exposed to a lot of nitrogen dioxide, suffered more from pigment spots than people from the countryside (Borken area). These discolorations were particularly visible on the cheeks. It also turned out that the subjects who were exposed to more (10 µg/m3) nitrogen dioxide had significantly more lentigines. No less than 20% to even 35% more pigment spots were visible with them.
Regularly cleansing your skin can reduce unwanted pigmentation.
Mineral sunscreen filters are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These two combinations ensure optimal and broad UV coverage. The two filters give the least chance of skin reaction, are not absorbed by the skin, and provide immediate protection after application.
Zinc oxide protects mainly UVA rays and less UVB. Titanium dioxide mainly has a UVB protection and less against UVA rays.
Look for combination of both mineral filters.
Tip: Supplement Glutathione
Glutathione is thought to inhibit pigment on several mechanisms. It inhibits the production of pigment in the melanocytes (pigment cells), and the strong antioxidant effect of glutathione also has an inhibiting effect on pigment production.
In a 2012 randomized placebo-controlled study of 60 volunteers, the volunteers received orally administered glutathione at a dose of 500 mg per day for 4 weeks. It led to a lighter skin color of the face and forearms. In itself, glutathione as a supplement is safe, but the longer-term effects require more research.
When it comes to nutrition, fruits, vegetables and meat are sources of natural glutathione.
Tip: Supplement 2 - Polypodium leucotomos extract (PLE) - Melasma
PLE is a fern extract and belongs to the Polypodiaceae family. It has antioxidant and immunoprotective effects. In a double-blind randomized study with placebo, 40 people with melasma were divided into 2 groups and followed for 3 months. One group received a placebo, combined with SPF50+ and hydroquinone 4% cream and the other group received PLE extract (2 x a day 480 mg), SPF50+ rubbing and also hydroquinone cream 4%. Conclusion after 3 months: the group with PLE, sun protection and hydroquinone 4% cream is significantly better than a placebo, SPF50 and hydroquinone 4% cream.
The best products to reduce pigmentation spots
Below you will find some products to reduce unwanted stains.
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Frequently asked questions about pigmentation spots
The tan obtained by a self-tanner does not protect against ultraviolet rays from the sun. The brown color only has an SPF value of 1-3. There is a good chance that you will burn your skin due to UV-B radiation. For this you will have to use extra sun protection.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor.
SPF is correlated with UVB rays and not UVA. The higher the SPF value, the more UVB is blocked and UVA rays are passed through. An SPF 30 blocks 97% UVB, SPF50 - 98% and SPF100 - 99% not available in Europe against UVB rays.
SPF does NOT protect against UVA rays
Pigment spots after a skin disorder are often referred to by skin specialists as PIH or also as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. PIH is a dark discoloration of the skin where the skin has been damaged. The PIH is usually similar in shape, size and number to the disease or lesion. Think, for example, of the spots that remain after acne that can be a bit raised, but also flat. The structure of the skin does not always have to change either. PIH is harmless, but can be experienced as cosmetically disturbing.
If you protect yourself well against the sun and if no new skin irritation arises, there is a good chance that it will disappear on its own.