Types of Pigmentation
When we expose the skin to the sun, the natural response is an increase in melanin – think of a suntan. This increase is triggered in order to protect the DNA within the cell’s nucleus. If these melanocytes are functioning normally, once the skin is no longer exposed to UV rays, the melanin production is decreased.
Sun-induced pigmentation is typically seen after years of exposure to UV rays. Due to the damaging effects of the sun, the melanocytes experience mutations, resulting in a continuous production of melanin. This is seen in the skin by small, brown discolorations, typically seen in areas exposed to the sun.
This form of pigmentation is becoming more common due to various methods of hormone therapy, birth control and other medications that may lead to hormonal fluctuations within the body. Melasma, also known as pregnancy mask, may be defined by areas of dense pigment. This is commonly seen above the lip, on the cheeks or the forehead.
Melanin production may be increased due to these fluctuations in hormones, that trigger an increase in Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone (MSH). Another possible link are toxins in the liver from medications and other harmful agents. In either case, an increased exposure to UV rays will cause more pigment to surface.
Inflammatory pigmentation typically is a result of an injury to the skin. This is commonly seen in those who have struggled with acne, specifically if they have self-extracted acne lesions. Other triggers include individuals who have picked or pulled at their skin after aesthetic procedures such as peels, burns and sometimes friction from clothing.
Skin may be characterized by more of a red/purple discoloration, which usually indicates the wound is still healing. This is more common in those who have acne or had a surgical procedure.