Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is the production of excess melanin causing dark spots on the skin. Age spots, liver spots, freckles, sun spots, pregnancy mask are all types of hyperpigmentation and there are several treatments available to reduce or remove the darker skin.

Hyperpigmentation refers to areas of skin where an excess of melanin has been produced and formed deposits, causing skin patches that appear darker than the surrounding skin.

Common skin areas that experience hyperpigmentation or dyschromia are the face, arms, and hands.  Age spots, liver spots, freckles, sun spots, melasma, and any typical dark or brown spots in the skin are examples of hyperpigmentation. 


Hyperpigmentation causes

Common causes of skin hyperpigmentation include:

  • Sun exposure
  • Hormonal changes
  • Heredity
  • Acne
  • Botched skin treatments

In situations where hyperpigmentation is caused by acne, botched skin treatment, or some other cause of skin inflammation, it is known as PIH, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Typically, hyperpigmentation is a harmless skin condition, however if moles or other possible signs of skin cancer appear, they should be checked by a dermatologist.


Hyperpigmentation treatment

  • IPL (Photofacial) - Treatment with intense pulsed light, or a Photofacial, is frequently recommended by doctors to treat hyperpigmentation. However, improperly administered IPL treatment can make hyperpigmentation worse, so choose your doctor carefully.
  • Chemical peel - A TCA peel or deeper phenol peel are also used to treat hyperpigmentation. Great care should be taken though as pigment irregularities and scarring can occur if not done by an experienced clinician with close follow-up.
  • Laser peel - A variety of laser resurfacing treatments may be performed to reduce hyperpigmentation. CO2 lasers and fractional lasers are popular choices for skin resurfacing.
  • Topical skin lightening products - Products containing skin lightening ingredients, such as hydroquinone, retinoids, kojic acid, and Vitamin C are often used to reduce hyperpigmentation.

More about hyperpigmentation on RealSelf:

Sources: D.J. Verret MD, Jordana Gilman, MD