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Best Practices in the Treatment of Hyperpigmentation

By: Ahmed Abdullah, MD
Posted: April 27, 2012, from the May 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
professional skin care client with hyperpigmentation

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The following options present an opportunity to set realistic expectations while helping skin care professionals determine how aggressively to treat conditions. Of course, in-depth methods of analyzing the overall condition of skin are now available. Although these comprehensive systems can certainly be beneficial, an investment in expensive equipment is not a prerequisite to the successful treatment of hyperpigmentation.

Fitzpatrick skin type. Treatment of hyperpigmentation is heavily determined by the client’s Fitzpatrick skin type, with lighter skin being easier to treat, and those Type V and higher requiring a more delicate approach.

Wood’s lamp. For those with a Fitzpatrick skin type lower than V, a Wood’s lamp is extremely beneficial in helping to determine the severity of hyperpigmentation, and whether it is isolated to the epidermal layer or goes deeper to the dermis. When the dermis is involved treatment becomes more challenging because topicals are usually ineffective.

Magnifying lamp. With the skin under a magnifying lamp, most locations of hyperpigmentation can be determined, as can patterns in its appearance. Additionally, the use of this tool allows the skin care professional to determine other issues that may be resolved as part of the treatment protocol. If sensitive skin is determined, active ingredients proven to cause irritation should be avoided.

Treating the condition

The field of ingredients and treatments proven effective in reducing hyperpigmentation has expanded significantly within the past 10 years. This development improves the likelihood that even those with challenging cases can realize improvement. There are two categories of treatment: topical agents and nonsurgical skin procedures. Although good results can be achieved using either approach, the best results are accomplished via a combination of the two.

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