Uneven Skin Tone: Causes and Treatments
Caring for your skin is a big responsibility. A variety of factors such as your overall health, age, hormone level and current skin care regimen can affect the way your skin looks. If you’re like millions of Americans, you’re currently suffering with discoloration or uneven skin tone, which can make you look tired, aged or unhealthy.
Your skin tone (as well as eye and hair color) is determined by varying amounts of a pigment called melanin. People with darker skin tones have more melanin than people with pale skin. Melanin serves as a shield against UV radiation. Uneven skin tone is caused by an uneven build-up of melanin in the outer layers of the skin.
The most common causes of uneven skin tone include:
- Sun exposure – Excessive exposure to UV radiation can result in an overproduction of melanin to protect your skin.
- Natural aging – As we age, our skin’s cellular turnover begins to slow down, resulting in a build-up of dead skin cells. The patches of dead skin cells appear as uneven patches of skin tone.
- Hormonal imbalance – Hormonal changes that occur from pregnancy, hormonal contraceptive or even a thyroid imbalance can lead to melasma (patchy brown discoloration of the skin). This condition usually fades once your hormone levels normalize.
- Skin inflammation – Acne, ingrown hairs, shaving and harsh skin care products can stimulate melanin production.
- Vitamin deficiency – A deficiency in calcium, iron, Vitamin A, E, or B complex can all lead to uneven skin tone.
If you have uneven skin tone, there are several treatment options that can help:
- Exfoliate! – Exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells from the outer layers of your skin. Ideally, you should exfoliate 2-3 times per week.
- Topical creams – Topical vitamin A or Hydroquinone cream (available by prescription) is essentially a bleaching treatment that works by blocking the production of melanin.
- Cosmetic procedures – A variety of in-office procedures such as a photofacial (Intense Pulsed Light therapy) can even out your skin tone.