Facial discoloration is caused when the cells that make melanin, which are responsible for the skin’s pigmentation, become damaged or unhealthy. Skin that has too much melanin is referred to as being hyperpigmented; skin that has too little melanin is referred to as being hypopigmented.
Types of Treatments
Facial hyperpigmentation is often caused by exposure to ultraviolet light; taking the hormones estrogen and progesterone; and the aging process. There are a number of treatments available.
Skin-bleaching liquids, creams, lotions and gels effectively treat brown facial discolorations. Most bleaching lotions use hydroquinone, which, when applied topically, lightens dark spots by reducing the amount of melanin present.
Damage to the top and middle layers of the skin can be treated with a chemical peel, which involves applying a small amount of an acid solution to the discolored skin. A small wound is created, and, when it heals, new unblemished skin has replaced it.
During microdermabrasion, a handheld device is used to sand away the outer layer of skin, removing discoloration and improving the look of the skin in general. The device transmits tiny crystal particles across the discolored skin to exfoliate the surface layer, and a vacuum tool removes the exfoliated skin.
Using a wandlike handpiece, laser treatment focuses an intense beam of bright light on the discoloration. The laser beam removes the discolored skin by vaporizing it. There are a number of different laser treatments, and which one is best depends upon the amount and type of skin damage being treated. Types of laser treatment include:
- Nonablative laser rejuvenation
- Intense pulsed light (IPL)
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
- Fractional laser rejuvenation
- Ablative laser resurfacing
Treatment using liquid nitrogen is referred to as cryotherapy, and it can be used to successfully treat facial discolorations. Liquid nitrogen is sprayed on the discolored skin, freezing it and turning it white. A small blister will form and, when it heals, usually about 1 or 2 weeks later, the discoloration will be gone.
In general, the best ways to avoid facial discoloration are to use sunblock on a regular basis, and avoid sun exposure as much as possible.