Dr. Shuba Dharmana, Clinical Dermatologist, discusses the causes of marks on the face and what they reveal about your skin’s health.
Let us first understand what pigmentation is. Irregularities in the pigment of the skin cause two types of skin pigmentation – hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation. A common feature of both kinds of skin pigmentation is that they both leave marks on the skin. When the marks are darker than one’s own skin colour, it is called hyperpigmentation. On the other hand, when the marks are lighter than the skin colour, it is hypopigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation is more commonly observed. So let us delve deeper into this category and try and understand its causes.
The pigmented areas of the skin are darker than the surrounding skin because there is an irregular concentration of pigment in this area of the skin. Various reasons are the contributing factors to hyperpigmentation. These include an increase in number of cells that are responsible for producing melanin, excess production of melanin by these same cells, a leakage of melanin into the skin layers or a deposition of other pigments in the skin.
Birth moles, naevi, freckles, sun spots are all examples of pigmentation but one of the most common causes of hyperpigmentation is skin diseases and infections such as acne, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, lichen simplex, lichen planus, fixed drug eruptions and morphoea.
Inflammation is a normal immune response that occurs in case of diseases or infections, where the cells producing the melanin get affected. It is therefore important to find the cause of the pigmentation and treat the cause as well as the pigmentation.
Asians are very prone to developing pigmentation problems because of the melanin content present naturally in their skin. Pigmentation can negatively affect a lot of people where they become socially withdrawn, depressed or experience a lack of confidence and self esteem. At a younger age, they may have been bullied at school and college due to pigmentation in their skin. As adults, their productivity at the workplace may suffer and they may give up hobbies like sports and social activities because they are self-conscious about their skin. They may not feel attractive and may even avoid the company of the opposite sex.
Generally women tend to cover pigmentation marks on the face with the application of makeup. If the makeup is not removed at night, it will affect the skin. People with oily and acne prone skin can have more breakouts if they apply makeup products as the makeup foundations and bases can clog the pores and lead to comedone formation. Another cause is continuously exposing the skin to more chemical laden products for longer periods of time.
Today we live in a competitive world with social media dominating a large part of our personal and work life and this in turn puts a lot of pressure on teens and young adults to have flawless skin. The ‘selfie’ trend is pushing a lot of youngsters to seek more cosmetic corrections.
Hence, looking at the physical and psychological impact pigmentation has on the skin, it is important, not just to clear pigmentation but also to cure the root cause.