Summer has finally arrived! Although summer is the often time to pursue the perfect sun-dappled glow, it’s important that we keep aware of the sun’s potential to adversely affect the skin and take necessary precautions. Excessive exposure to UV rays can exacerbate existing skin dispigmentation and in some instances may lead to new, malignant patches of dispigmentation, such as melanoma. In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness month, we wanted to share spotlight some common forms of skin dispigmentation and how AminoGenesis products can improve many of these conditions.
What Are Common Forms of Skin Discoloration and What Causes them?
Skin discoloration can come from an assortment of factors, from genetics to sun exposure and even acne scarring. Below we have listed some common forms of dispigmentation and their causes.
— Moles and Beauty Spots – Among the more benign forms of dispigmentation are moles and beauty spots. These forms of discoloration are often due to genetics and usually remain benign throughout one’s lifetime. A typical mole/beauty spot will be no larger than a pencil eraser, have a rounded border, and be brownish-black in color (National Cancer Institute).
If the spot suddenly changes color, grows in size, or develops an uneven border and bumpy texture, then this may indicative of skin cancer and should be reviewed by a dermatologist as soon as possible. A change in color or size can be due to excessive UV ray exposure or a genetic predisposition(LiveScience.com, European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology). For example, people with several atypical moles (i.e. bumpy, oddly-colored moles larger than a pencil eraser), sudden mole growth or a family history of skin cancer increases the likelihood that these are cancerous moles.
Additionally, one study found that 80% of melanoma patients had pre-existing moles which had changed in size and color. Those individuals with many moles may also suffer from Familial Atypical Mole or Melanoma Syndrome. These individuals have a 100% chance of developing melanoma by their 70th birthday! (The Western Journal of Medicine) While most moles will remain benign for our entire lives, be aware of any notable changes in a mole’s appearance, and always make sure to wear sunscreen so as not to encourage melanocyte proliferation.
— Lentigines – Also known as liver spots, age spots, and sun spots, lentigines are patches of brown pigment that develop in sun-damaged skin and seldom fade after reducing sun exposure. Most people develop these over the age of 40, though they can appear at any age and are usually on parts of the body most frequently exposed to UV rays, such as the face, torso, and arms (AIM at Melanoma Foundation). Lentigines are most prominent among Asian populations, but can also appear in Caucasian populations (International Journal of Cosmetic Science). Like moles, not all lentingines are cancerous, but sudden changes in size or color should be reviewed by a dermatologist, as they may be signs of skin cancer. Those with several lentigines may also suffer from Multiple Lentigines Syndrome. In addition to having multiple lentigines, those suffering from this condition also have wide-set eyes, hearing difficult, delayed puberty, and slow growth, among numerous other conditions. If you develop multiple lentigines, especially at a young age, you may wish to speak with a dermatologist to determine the lentigines’ exact cause and proper treatment (Nicklaus Children’s Hospital)
— Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation–Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a condition most often found in those with darker complexions, but can be found in populations of any age and ethnicity. After experiencing an injury or inflammation of some sort (acne, dermatitis, psoriasis, burns, bug bites, cosmetic treatments, etc), the skin will react by producing an abundance of melanin, a pigment which gives our skin color. The appearance of PIH can worsen if one experiences frequent UV exposure without proper protection (sunscreen, sunhats) and if one has repeated inflammation and injury in the area (such as repeatedly picking at pimples and their scars (The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology)
— Melasma – Melasma, also known as the “mask of pregnancy” is a skin condition characterized by grayish-brown patches of hyperpigmentation appearing on commonly-exposed regions of the body, such as the face, arms, and torso. Women are more likely to contract melisma than men, and those of Hispanic or Asian heritage are also more likely to develop melasma, though the condition can be found in both genders and any ethnicity (Indian Journal of Dermatology, American Academy of Dermatology).
The exact cause of melasma is unknown, though it has been linked to a genetic predisposition as well as excessive UV ray exposure, pregnancy, oral contraceptives, anti-seizure medication, and estrogen progesterone therapy, among other causes. The condition can physicalize itself as one of three patterns: the mandibular pattern, with melasma patches along the jawbone; the malar pattern, with melasma on the cheeks and nose; or the centrofacial pattern, with discolorations along the nose, chin, lips, forehead, and cheeks (Indian Journal of Dermatology).
— Melanoma – Melanoma is one of the most prevalent yet preventable forms of cancer in contemporary society, with someone diagnosed with melanoma every 57 minutes (Skin Cancer Foundation). While it is important that you see a dermatologist annually for a regular checkup regarding your skin’s health, you should periodically conduct a self-examination to look for any growths/moles/discolorations that have recently manifested themselves on your body, as well as any changes in appearance or sensation in existing moles, as these are often indicative of melanoma. Considering that only about 5-10% of malignant melanomas are genetic, and that 90% of skin damage is due to excessive sun exposure, a few minutes for self-examination really could make a difference in your skin’s wellbeing (Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venerologia, Skin Cancer Foundation)
To assist in self-examination, dermatologists have developed the “ABDCE” test (American Cancer Society). If your mole/discoloration matches any of these criteria, then you should see a dermatologist immediately:
—“A”symmetry – do both sides of the mole match, or is one larger than the other? Is one side a different color, or perhaps raised?
—“B”order – does the mole have a regular rounded border, or is the border uneven and jagged in appearance?
—“C”olor – does the mole exhibit multiple colors at once, such as blue, brown, pink, and black?
—“D”iameter – is the discoloration larger than 6 cm (a pencil eraser?). Some melanomas may be smaller than this, however
—“E”volving – is the discoloration changing in appearance?
You may also want to try out the “Ugly Duckling Test” on your skin, in which you see if any of your moles or discolorations are drastically different from those on the rest of your body, a.k.a. an “ugly duckling” (Skin Cancer Foundation)
How can AminoGenesis Products Treat Discoloration?
The key to good skin – whether for general health or to treat a certain condition – is to start your routine with a good cleanser. The AminoGenesis Really, Really Clean Moisturizing Facial Cleanser was formulated to gently yet deeply cleanse your skin of makeup, bacteria, and deeply-embedded dirty. But what truly makes this cleanser unique is its extensive use of amino acids and Preventhelia which have been shown to fight dispigmentation and oxidative stress, respectively. Specifically, the AminoGenesis Really, Really Clean Cleanser makes use of L-isoleucine, L-leucine and L-alanine, all of which were shown to reduce melanogensis (melanin production) in melanoma cells (Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin). Preventhelia, a recently-patented peptide, safeguards skin further by protecting it from carbon and oxidative free radical damage, reduces signs of aging, and assists in slowing pre-mature breakdown of skin proteins.
Crafting an effective skin care regimen should employ a multi-pronged approach, a particularly important factor when attempting to prevent and treat discoloration during the summer months. In accompaniment with wearing sunscreen everyday, wearing sun-protective clothing and avoiding direct sun exposure during the peak hours of 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, we recommend using the AminoGenesis Paranormal EFX Anti Aging Serum, a potent mixture of plant extracts, amino acids, and peptides that will erase signs of aging while hydrating and protecting the skin from external elements. The Paranormal EFX Anti-Aging Serum includes Preventhelia, which protects against both reactive carbonyl species and oxidative free radicals, and 17 amino acids, including the melanogenesis-inhibiting L-leucine, L-isoleucine, and L-alanine.
But what truly makes this formula unique is its use of tremella mushroom extract and PA Reviviscence. Tremella mushroom has been shown to inhibit melanin formation by up to 57.9%, and when coupled with amino acids, create a superb spot-correcting serum (U.S Patent 20060222608). Tremella mushroom extract keeps skin hydrated and healthy, with one study finding that topically-applied tremella mushroom increased skin’s water content by 35-56%.
PA Revivscence is a plant extract formulated from the so-called “resurrection plant” myrothamnus flabefollia that is able to withstand the long droughts and rainy seasons in South Africa’s granitic, inhospitable soil. While this tough-as-nails plant seems to be an odd addition to an anti-aging serum, think again; PA Reviviscence has been shown to be an effective moisturizer, protects skin against abrupt heat and cold shock, and offers both UVA and UVB protection (BASF). When protected from harmful UVA and UVB rays, skin is less likely to become photodamaged and sunburnt, which in turn lessens one’s likelihood for contacting melanoma or another skin dispigmentation disorder.
Probably the best product to protect skin discoloration is a sunscreen. Unfortunately, many of us routinely misuse sunscreen, from applying it too infrequently, forgetting to apply it every day, or even forgetting to use a broad spectrum sunscreen. The AminoGenesis Anti Aging Day Cream with SPF 30 was formulated to offer broad-spectrum protection, meaning that it protects against sunburn-inducing UVB rays as well as photoaging/cancer-inducing UVA rays. As an added bonus, our Anti-Aging Day Cream with SPF 30 is also formulated with 17 amino acids that hydrate the skin and give it a glowing, evenly-toned appearance.
By no means is sunshine your enemy for the summer; but if you don’t take proper precautions, excessive UV ray exposure and overly exposed skin can lead to complications later in life, or even exacerbate an existing skin condition. It is particularly important during the summer months to be aware of changes in skin pigmentation and the size/color/composition of moles, as these can often indicate the early stages of melanoma development. For the best course of action we suggest using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, such as the AminoGenesis Anti Aging Day Cream with SPF 30 that offers both UVA and UVB protection that not only protects skin from harmful rays, but also uses amino acids to reduce the appearance of discoloration, hydrate the skin, and leave your skin with a vibrant glow. This should be used with a cleanser, such as the AminoGenesis Paranormal EFX Anti Aging Serum that employs the melanin-inhibiting and ultra-hydrating tremella mushroom extract and the UVA and UVB-blocking PA Reviviscence. Finally, we suggest using a deep-penetrating cleanser that also offers protection from free radicals and reduces the appearance of discoloration, such as our AminoGenesis Really, Really Clean Facial Moisturizing Cleanser. Yet while our products are fabulous at healing and protecting the skin from damage, for improved protection you should regularly re-apply sunscreen, wear sun-protective clothing and avoid direct UV exposure during the peak hours of 10:00 – 4:00.