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With the heated Summer sun now here, we wanted to understand the most common harmful effects from UVA/UVB rays, hyperpigmentation, so we sat down with Dr. Goldfaden to better understand hyperpigmentation, what causes it and how to treat it.

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Photo via Rodan & Fields 

Q: What is the cause of increased pigmentation and darkening of the skin, and what can I do for its prevention and management?

A: Dr. Goldfaden, MD: There are many possible causes of pigmentation disorders, which are marked by changes in melanin, the pigment in skin.

First, you should consult with your primary care physician or dermatologist to rule out the possibility of a systemic health disorder or a cancerous lesion that requires medical treatment. Your health care provider will conduct a physical examination, examining the location, distribution, color, and ap-pearance of the areas of increased pigmentation. Additionally, the practitioner will assess the history of the condition, which will help determine whether the disorder may be due to a developmentally programmed, congenital, or acquired cause.

Your practitioner will also evaluate whether external factors, such as medications, chemical exposure, or other environmental influences, could have contributed to the increased deposition of pigment in the skin. Furthermore, the practitioner will make note of any prior history of pigmentation disorder and its treatment.

The most common localized pigmentation disorder affecting the skin are ephelides, more commonly known as freckles. Ephelides appear as flat brown pigmentation in sun-exposed areas, usually on the face. They are much more common in fair-skinned individuals, and a propensity to have freckles is an inheritable condition. The degree of pigmentation in the skin changes according to the amount of ultraviolet light exposure, so that freckles usually darken in the summer and lighten in the winter.

Q: What are the causes? 

A: Dr. Goldfaden, MD

Pigmentation disorders such as melasma or chloasma arise from increased melanin in the lower layers of the skin and increased free melanin in the skin. The pigmentation is usually brown with a non-distinct border, and is usually found on the central facial areas such as the cheeks, moustache, and forehead areas. Melasma affects both men and women, though it is more frequent in women (up to 30% may be affected). Its incidence is much higher in Asian and darker-skinned individuals than in fair-skinned people. The causes are unknown, but probably include genetic predisposition, hormonal factors, pregnancy, and exposure to ultraviolet light.

Another very common skin disorder is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The underlying mechanism is unclear, but may involve inflammatory mediators such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes. While the causes and clinical presentation of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can vary, they are usually secondary to a traumatic incident to the affected area of the skin. Sun exposure can worsen this condition.

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Q: What is the treatment protocol?

A: Dr. Goldfaden, MD

There is no true curative therapy for melasma. Affected individuals should avoid ultraviolet light exposure and drugs containing hormones, such as oral contraceptives and conventional hormone replacement therapy agents. Skin-bleaching agents are extremely helpful in lightening melasma and maintaining skin-lightening improvements.

Topical therapies in combination with sunscreens can be quite beneficial.

Exfoliation: For enhanced results, these products should be used in conjunction with exfoliation. Regular exfoliation (chemical or physical) removes the dead surface skin cells and allows the treatment ingredients to penetrate deeper and more effectively into the skin, providing enhanced overall results.

Treatment: Many all-natural, topical skin-lightening agents have been found to be quite beneficial in lightening hyperpigmented areas of the skin. These include alpha arbutin, as well as kojic acid, which comes from berries. Topical applications of natural, fruit-derived alpha-hydroxy acids, including glycolic acid, have been extremely beneficial in combination with the aforementioned naturally derived bleaching agents.

Sun Protection: Once your physician has ruled out conditions necessitating medical treatment, you may be able to minimize areas of hyperpigment-ation using a well-rounded approach that includes avoiding ultraviolet radiation from the sun, using an effective sunscreen throughout the day to stay protected and keep additional hyper pigmentation from forming.

Years of daily exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun take their toll on your skin. Sun-damaged skin becomes dry and rough, uneven patches and dark spots begin to appear, fine lines and wrinkles deepen, and your skin loses its firmness and elasticity. And, if you spent any part of your youth sunbathing you may find that your skin looks years older than you feel. Scientific research has led to the discovery of natural compounds that can help support the structure of skin as well as minimize signs of aging, such as crow’s feet, lines, sagging, and uneven tone. In addition to topical treatments and proper sun protection, many of these natural compounds come from the foods we eat.

Some examples are leafy green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, kale, and broccoli, which provide many internal health benefits. What you may not know is that key phytonutrients in these vegetables can also visibly improve the health and appearance of your skin.

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Concentrated extracts from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli contain bioactive phytonutrients that can help to reverse and repair a lifetime of skin damage—revealing smoother, clearer, and more radiant skin.

Sun Exposure Accelerates Aging – What you need to know:

Time, gravity, heredity, and other environmental exposures all affect how skin ages, but the overwhelming majority of visible signs of aging are caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Because the complex outer layer of our skin, the epidermis, is fully exposed to the external environment, it’s always under attack through dehydration, abrasion and most especially, ionizing damage from high-energy ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Photoaged skin is prematurely lined, wrinkled and frequently has broken capillaries and irregular pigmentation. It loses its elasticity earlier than healthy aging skin.

Although precisely how ultraviolet radiation causes skin aging is not yet known, we do know that cumulative UV radiation increases production of free radicals, damaging DNA and the enzymes involved in DNA repair. UV radiation increases inflammation and damages collagen and elastin, the proteins that give skin its resilience. It also acts to suppress immune function in the skin.

Antioxidants join forces to combat aging:

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 11.05.06 AMAntioxidant rich green and red tea adds to the anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects of sulforaphane and beta-carotene. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate is the principal antioxidant polyphenol in green and red tea and in addition to its antioxidant activity, it also demonstrates photoprotective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-angiogenic (inhibits the growth of new blood vessels) properties, which may help to reduce the appearance of small, dilated blood vessels around the nose, cheek, and chin. The polyphenols in green tea have also been shown to increase the tensile strength of skin and enhance wound healing. In combination, these potent antioxidants can not only improve skin health and reverse the signs of aging in photodamaged skin but also help to prevent future damage from free radicals and ultraviolet radiation.

“Using a daily anti-oxidant rich topical treatment is a must-have in any regimen as will help prevent against long term sun damage.” Dermatologist Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD

Proper Sun Protection:

With Spring just around the corner, practicing safe and proper sun protection is essential for keeping your skin burn free this coming Spring. While applying an SPF in the morning – whether it be in your foundation, moisturizer, or as a solid base, is just not enough to keep you protected throughout the day, especially for women who wear makeup and reapplication tends to get tricky.

Try our goto and favorite sun spray on the market, Sun Visor. oh, did we mention that the formula is oil-free, fragrance-free and can even be applied on top of makeup? Yes, you heard that right!

 

Maintaining a glowing and youthful complexion is certainly something that many need to work at through diet, exercise and topical treatments, but here are five must-do rules that every Dermatologist agrees is necessary in obtaining gorgeous skin.

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Diet Counts: Clear and glowing skin starts from the inside. Eating foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, the most beneficial is Salmon, can greatly reduce inflammation, reduce dryness and increase circulation – a key attribute to healthy, youthful-looking skin. Daily consumption of vitamins specifically my favorite vitamin – Vitamin D and an overall multi-vitamin greatly impacts your overall health.

Exfoliation is key: The beginning of every successful skincare regime starts with exfoliation. Exfoliation is key – you would be surprised how much smoother and brighter just one exfoliating treatment can do for your skin. Regular exfoliation, the removal of dead surface skin cells, dirt and oils greatly reduces the appearance of discoloration, fine lines and dull, lack-luster skin and prevents from future breakouts. It also allows topical products, particularly super potent treatment serums, applied onto the skin afterwards to penetrate deeper, increasing the overall treatment.

Super Potent Anti-Aging Ingredient to Use: Retinoids have been proven to be one of the most powerful anti-aging properties and ever women over the age of 30 should be incorporating them into their skincare regimen. With regular use, Vitamin A or Retinoids work to stimulate your skin to make collagen, help to repair sun damage, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, increase overall skin tone/discoloration and promotes cell turnover. Vitamin A stimulates skin cell renewal by increasing the rate of cell division resulting in a plumper complexion. Additionally, retinol-based products can help to unclog pores thus inhibit dead skin cells that can cause future breakouts and also inhibit acne scars from forming.

Most Powerful Anti-Aging Step – Stay Protected: One of the most IMPORTANT things that you can do for your skin is stay protected from the harmful UVA/UVB rays. Rain or shine, sun rays work to breakdown collagen fibers, increase skin cancer cells, create unwanted pigmentation, and promote premature aging.

We love Sun Visor because it’s an easy-to-apply oil-free and fragrance-free translucent mist which makes this the ideal sun screen to reapply throughout the day. 

Partying Really Does Count: “Smoking causes the narrowing of blood vessels throughout your body, including those that supply the outermost layers of the skin with oxygen and nutrients. Regular smoking slowly starves your skin of vital oxygen and other substances, such as immunity-boosting Vitamin A that is essential for that youthful-looking glow and radiant complexion. Alcohol has a similar effect by destroying the body supply of Vitamin A.” Dermatologist Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD