In hyperpigmentation, the skin either produces too much pigment or the pigment is deposited deep within the skin, resulting in dark spots. When color is lost, it's called hypopigmentation, which results in light-colored patches. All people with dark skin are at risk for both skin conditions.
Hyperpigmentation, commonly called “dark spots”, refers to patches of skin that are darker than your normal skin tone. It is caused by the clustering of excess melanin in the skin. Three primary causes of this are sun exposure, inflammation, and hormonal changes.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation on Black Skin?
Black skin is characterized as skin type 6 on the Fitzpatrick skin type scale. This skin type is particularly prone to developing dark spots. Black skin can develop dark spots for the same reasons as any other skin tone, but is more at risk of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) than lighter skin tones.
There are several prescription and over-the-counter treatments for hyperpigmentation. These include chemical peels, microdermabrasion and topical bleaching creams.
A chemical peel is a facial resurfacing procedure that involves using a chemical solution to remove the top layer of skin cells. Since the outermost layers of the skin are composed of dead skin cells, removing these cells lightens discolorations and improves the look and appearance of the skin. Great care should be taken to find an Esthetician who specializes in black skin as these treatments can result in irreversible damage and discomfort. A series of treatments is often required.
Prospective clients should be advised that the skin may look worse before it looks better after undergoing these treatments. For more invasive techniques, a recovery period of several weeks may be required as the skin begins to heal and recover. Additionally, swelling and redness are common side effects and should be expected. Reducing excess sun exposure and protecting the skin with sunscreen are the keys to getting the most out of any treatment.