Hyperpigmentation means the discolouration of patches of the skin compared to its surroundings. This typically harmless issue can appear locally or sporadically in various skin parts, including the face.
Different reasons can lead to hyperpigmentation, including UV light, inflammation, hormonal imbalance, and particular medicines. Besides these reasons, scientists recently have discovered that Demodex mites can cause facial skin discolouration. Demodex-related hyperpigmentation is called “Pigmented Demodicosis”, one of the most recently discovered symptoms of Demodex mite.
If you undergo skin discolouration, this article can assist you in finding the root cause and helping eradicate your issue permanently. If you are reading this article, you are one of the few individuals who know that Demodex mites can cause brown spots on the skin.
Skin hyperpigmentation and the development of brown spots typically arise due to large amounts of “melanin”. The kind of skin cells that make this pigment that is called “melanocytes”, which are found scattered throughout the stratum basale of the epidermis. In the next step, melanin is diffused into adjacent cells via a cellular organelle called a “melanosome” to make skin colour darker.
People with different skin colours have the same amount of melanocytes; however, the rate of melanin production differs among them. In other words, individuals with dark skin make more melanin, while white people have less of this pigment.
Facial hyperpigmentation happens when the skin makes too much melanin and collects them in some skin regions. There are several reasons for melanin overproduction, some of which are as follows:
Ultraviolet radiation (UV) from sunlight encourages melanocytes to make more melanin. This pigment extends through the skin cells and changes their colour. High concentrations of melanin can shield the skin’s genetic material (DNA) from the sun’s damaging rays; so, melanin production is a protection mechanism against the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV). Still, too much melanin can interfere with vitamin D production, which is a necessary vitamin for calcium absorption and metabolism.
After sunlight exposure, it takes more than a week for melanin synthesis to its peak. That is why people with white skin – who have less melanin – tend to suffer sunburn, while people with dark skin are more resistant to sunburn.
Sunlight can thoroughly darken the facial skin or make dark brown patches on different parts.
Solar lentigines is a kind of skin hyperpigmentation that occurs because of exposure to sunlight and that becomes more prevalent with age. These discoloured patches are also called “old age spots” or “senile freckle”. Although lentigines are harmless, they can change the appearance of the skin and impact a person’s looks. They occur due to the local increase of melanocytes and the accumulation of melanin in the skin cells.
Solar Lentigos are flat patches of skin that can be round, oval, or irregular in shape. Their colour may differ from light brown to tan, dark brown or black, and their size varies from a few millimetres to a few centimetres.
Solariums (sunbeds and tanning beds)
Studies show that solarium is harmful, like sunlight. The radiation can damage the skin’s genetic material. On the other hand, over-stimulation of melanocytes can set the stage for various skin cancers (melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma).
Dermatologists recommend that individuals -particularly young folks- avoid sun exposure and tanning their skin as much as possible.
Melasma is a common skin concern that appears as bilateral brown pigmentations. Hormonal imbalance is a typical cause of this type of hyperpigmentation. Melasma has been linked to thyroid dysfunction, hormone therapy and pregnancy. It is more common in dark-skinned women in their 20s and 40s.
Risk factors for melasma include:
- Family history
- Sun exposure
- Changes in oestrogen and progesterone: Pregnancy and the use of oral contraceptives, intrauterine devices, hormone replacement therapy.
- Scented products: In addition to hormones, some of the aromatic compounds, such as what is found in perfumed soaps and cosmetics, also trigger reactions that can set the stage for developing melasma.
Some medications have an effective role in changing skin colour; the most important of which are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antimalarial drugs, amiodarone, cytotoxic drugs, tetracyclines, heavy metals and psychedelics.
Various mechanisms may have a role in drug-induced skin pigmentation. For example, heavy metals such as iron, silver, and gold may damage blood vessels and build up in the skin, producing a melanin-like colour. On the other hand, some drugs react with melanin to form a drug pigment complex. Furthermore, there are some medications that cause pigmentation by accumulating or reacting directly with other substances in the skin.
Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
This type of hyperpigmentation occurs when a person’s skin gets damaged due to injury, burn, pimple, acne, eczema, impetigo, psoriasis, and other types of trauma or irritation. You may even undergo PIH after using a skincare product.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation usually limits skin power to regeneration; of course, this happens after a few months.
This kind of hyperpigmentation may affect both the skin’s surface and the middle layer by causing excessive melanin production. Other commonly reported PIH causes include:
- Insect bites
- Laser therapy or light therapy
- Cryotherapy and chemical peels
- Demodex mites (Recently found)
PIH is most common in people with dark skin as they already produce a higher rate of melanin.
Demodex Mites Can Cause Facial Hyperpigmentation
Updates on facial hyperpigmentation causes have revealed new and exciting facts about Demodex parasites. So far, no link has been recognised between dark spots on the skin and Demodex mites; however, some recently approved data has shown and described a strong connection for the first time.
The Demodex mite is a microscopic being that closely resembles insects, except that it has eight tiny legs instead of six and that its body has three segments without having an anus. This mite thrives inside the skin’s pores, infecting the follicles and sebaceous glands.
Although most people are unaware that they are infected, Demodicosis (a whole spectrum of Demodex manifestations) is quite prevalent. Approximately 30 to 100% of adults have a population of mites living in their skin, which can lead to various skin and hair problems when it exceeds five per square centimetre.
Some dermatological issues that have been linked to Demodex infections are as follow:
- Hair loss and thinning hair
- Skin itching
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Crawling sensation on the skin
Recently, researchers have added skin discolouration or hyperpigmentation to this long list. In other words, people who suffer from the above complications may unknowingly have these parasites.
If you have one or more of the above conditions or your skin has changed in colour, you would better check whether you carry a high density of Demodex mites.
Demodex Mites’ Role in Facial Hyperpigmentation
A long way seems to be ahead to discover the underlying mechanisms; however, articles suggest that Demodex skin discoloration may be a type of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). In other words, these parasites can cause allergies or inflammation through physical contact and provide the basis for melanin overproduction, leading to facial hyperpigmentation.
Demodicosis Risk Factors
Typically, a small number of these parasites live on most people’s skin. But those with weak immune systems, taking immunosuppressive drugs such as corticosteroids, or having infection on their skin or inside their bodies are more likely to get Demodex.
Demodex Mites Diagnosis and Treatments
As with all skin problems, consulting a dermatologist is the first and best option. However, in recent years, valid questionnaires have been developed as online tests to measure Demodex mites density. These questionnaires assess the Demodex mite population by examining related symptoms, Demodex-boosting habits, immune system status and signs of infection. Because these parasites are contagious, it is best for everyone within the family to fill out this questionnaire to find out their security, as they may be asymptomatic carriers.
In case of an infection, PDT can gradually help you get rid of the parasites by exposing your skin to the product on a nightly routine. This non-drug, natural-based anti-Demodex product doesn’t have any side effects and eliminates all ends of the infestation spectrum caused by these damaging parasites. Due to the contagion of Demodex mites, spraying a small amount of PDT on items that come in contact with the skin and hair is a big step forward to remove environmental Demodex and stop them from spreading to others.