What determines our skin color?
It depends on melanogenesis: the production of a brown pigment known as melanin by melanocytes, a specialized cell located in the epidermis.
Melanin is evenly distributed at the surface of the skin in the shape of "grains". It gives the skin its shade of color, ranging from milky white to black: the higher the concentration of melanin, the darker the skin. Melanin synthesis, and thus the skin's color, is genetically determined.
Melanin synthesis is also stimulated by the sun rays. In fact, tanning is your skin's reaction to the aggression of ultraviolet rays.
Pigmentation is fragile and easily altered by trauma or diseases. "Pigmentation problems" can take the form of hyperpigmentations (brown spots) or hypopigmentations (clear spots).
What are the different types of brown spots?
The pregnancy mask
Also known as "melasma” particularly occurs in pregnant women. It occurs on the face (forehead, cheeks, upper lips). It is induced by the sun, whose effects on the skin are potentialized by the hormones that are produced in abundance during pregnancy. However, being pregnant is not a prerequisite to be affected by melasma. Intake of estrogen (birth-control pills) can also increase the risks. It can even affect men after being exposed to the sun.
Also known as "solar lentigo", they increase in number and in size with age. They're mostly found on the back of hands, but also on the face, neck, cleavage and legs.
Residual pigment marks
All skin inflammations can leave unsightly pigmented marks or scars. It is the case for common skin conditions such as acne for example, which are perceptibly worsened when exposed to the sun.
Irregular skin tone
Irregular pigmentation of the skin tone that indicate photoaging induced by extensive UV exposure.
What are the possible precautions?
To prevent brown spots from appearing or accentuating, a few precautions must be taken:
- No direct exposure to the sun
- Avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. when it is particularly aggressive
- Wear clothes that provide maximum protection
- Put on a wide brim hat and sunglasses.
- Choose sun care products with high SPF (50+)
Remember to reapply every two hours.
For the skin
All conditions require the help of a health professional for diagnosis and treatment