Video: Treating Hyperpigmentation (Discoloration) Of Darker Skin
Treating hyperpigmentation and other skin discoloration in patients with darker skin (Fitzpatrick skin type IV through VII) can be tricky. Dr. Erica Stevens, Board Certified Dermatologist, discusses treatment options for addressing hyperpigmentation in darker skin tones.
Hi. My name is Doctor Erica Stevens and I’m a board-certified dermatologist here at Westlake Dermatology. Today we’re going to talk a little bit about hyperpigmentation in skin of color. It’s actually a very common complaint that we receive from patients in darker skin types (those with Fitzpatrick skin types IV through VII). These skin types are the ones that tend to always or mostly tan with sun exposure and rarely develop sunburns.
Hyperpigmentation can occur due to a variety of conditions. Trauma along the skin or any inflammatory condition can leave a footprint of discoloration behind. For many patients, this remaining discoloration can be much more distressing and traumatic than the original issue itself. Hyperpigmentation stemming from acne is also very common. Patients with regular acne can be left with some dark spots after a pimple clears. This discoloration can be even more noticeable than the pimple was. In this scenario, I do recommend treating the underlying condition, in this example, acne, while also simultaneously focus on treating the hyperpigmentation. By addressing the underlying condition, we can prevent future hyperpigmentation development.
There are many different treatments options for hyperpigmentation. Several prescription topical medications can be helpful for both acne and light-to-moderate discoloration. A more aggressive option for addressing hyperpigmentation is chemical peels, which can be used in conjunction with prescription topical therapies. Skin lightening creams like Cosmelan Mask can also be used.
For the most severe discoloration cases, there are several great laser options. You do have to be careful about laser treatments in skin of color as there only are a few lasers that are safe. Some lasers can actually worsen discoloration, so we have to be mindful of that. Fraxel laser treatment can sometimes be helpful for more severe cases of discoloration including dark spots on the skin.
Since treating patients with darker skin tones can be a little tricky, it is very important to choose a board-certified dermatologist who is experienced in treating darker skin types.