Hyperpigmentation is a condition of the human skin where dark spots appear in one area (localized) or spread out (diffuse) in the body. This commonly results from unregulated and too much production of melanin pigments within the skin cells. And because melanin is responsible for producing color in certain parts of our skin, its overproduction creates an uneven skin tone.
An example of hormonally-induced facial hyperpigmentation is called melasma. Here, female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) trigger the excessive production of melanin, upon sun exposure. The resulting big patches of hyperpigmentation usually occurs in the cheeks, nose, lips, and forehead. Pregnant women, people who undergo hormone replacement therapy, those who take contraceptive pills, women in their menopausal periods, and those with a higher genetic predisposition, often suffer from this condition.
There are many ways to counter the impact of hyperpigmentation, such as effective sunscreen use and wearing wide-brimmed hats outdoors, to lessen the sun exposure that triggers melanin production. While these may seem enough for some patients, others still opt for medical treatments.
Turning to topical creams to medically treat hyperpigmentation is fairly common for patients who want to fight the aesthetically-unwanted effects of this skin condition. One example is the use of cysteamine cream to stop excessive melanin production. Cysteamine is well-known for its FDA-approval in the treatment of a rare genetic disorder called cystinosis. These days, it is being directed towards the treatment of melasma and hyperpigmentation disorders.
Comprised mainly of a naturally-occurring thiol in the human body (cysteamine), cysteamine cream is a lot safer than other depigmenting creams. Its non-toxic potency impacts melanin synthesis by stopping the production of these coloring pigments. Additionally, studies show that it has higher efficacy as compared to commonly-opted medical treatments. Finally, unlike its chemically-based counterparts (that have been feared to have carcinogenic effects), studies report the safety and even suggest anti-cancer properties of cysteamine.
Rana Tarakji is an entrepreneur and a contributing writer at One SEO, a digital marketing company in Lebanon, Beirut. Rana is passionate about digital marketing, startups, helping entrepreneurs grow, and empowering them to live their dreams. She has worked as a marketer, a technology co-founder and business developer, and a writer.