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Hyperpigmentation Can Get Worse in Dry Weather

Now that fall is upon us, many are left wondering how to effectively manage hyperpigmentation as the weather turns dry.

Hyperpigmentation may seem like a summer thing and a nonissue during the fall and winter months, but this isn’t the case.

Dry weather, cold temperatures, and decreased humidity can cause dry patches on the skin and worsen skin conditions like acnepsoriasis, and eczema, leaving behind persistent dark spots.

Fortunately, there are steps anyone with hyperpigmentation can take towards managing this skin concern in the fall.

What is hyperpigmentation?

Dr. Corey Hartman, a dermatologist in Birmingham, Alabama, specializes in treating hyperpigmentation.

“Hyperpigmentation can occur as a result of any inflammatory skin condition (acne, eczema, psoriasis), hormonal changes (melasma), or be induced by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) and visible light (sunspots, freckles),” he explains.

When skin cells are inflamed and damaged, the increased melanin releases pigment deeper into skin layers and between skin cells, causing darker patches.

Having darker skin, I understand the struggle of managing stubborn hyperpigmentation throughout the years with what felt like little improvement to show for my efforts.

My stagnant results could’ve been from my lack of knowledge surrounding how hyperpigmentation differs from skin tone to skin tone.

Hartman explains that hyperpigmentation occurs in darker skin tones due to inflammation.

“[Comparatively,] in lighter skin types, hyperpigmentation is caused by prolonged sun exposure and environments associated with increased heat and hormones,” he says.

How dry weather affects hyperpigmentation

The skin is the body’s first line of defense against pathogens. When the weather changes and turns dry in the fall, so does the propensity for our skin to become dryer.

“In the fall and winter, temperatures start to decrease, the air is less humid and drier, airborne allergens change and increase, and we heat our homes,” Hartman says. “All of these factors contribute to dryness and dehydration.”

According to Hartman, dry skin leads to irritated skin.

“When the skin barrier is compromised, it lacks the ability to hold onto oil and water. The skin starts to become itchy, and that scratching leads to a rash,” he says.

As the cycle persists, this leads to inflammation and hyperpigmentation.

Management tips

While many people may not be aware, there are ways to effectively manage your hyperpigmentation in the drier fall months.

Here are six steps you can take:

Manage hyperpigmentation at the source

Skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis can be made worse in dryer weather, especially for those who have or are prone to dry or combination-dry skin.

The first step to managing hyperpigmented skin is to find the source.

Hartman recommends The Ordinary Azelaic Acid 10% Suspension for both hyperpigmentation and acne.

Azelaic acid is produced naturally by yeast that lives on skin and is abundant in grains. It helps to improve brightness and reduce the appearance of blemishes and also acts as an antioxidant,” he says.

Still wear sunscreen

Harmful sun rays can still cause damage to skin even in the fall and winter. Not to mention, some locations still have very warm fall seasons.

Dr Hartman suggests wearing sunscreen even when it’s overcast or you’re indoors.

“The UV and visible light from windows are enough to worsen hyperpigmentation and interfere with a skin regimen aimed at treating dark spots,” he says.

Wearing sunscreen daily is still essential in protecting your skin in the fall.

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