Hyperpigmentation: Causes, Types & Treatments

What are the Causes of Hyperpigmentation?

by Saima
What are the Causes of Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is a common yet unhazardous skin problem caused by excess melanin production. Genetics, prolonged sun exposure, environmental factors and hormonal imbalance are major contributing factors to hyperpigmentation. What Causes hyperpigmentation and what are the effective treatment options are described here in detail. So, keep reading to learn more!

What is Hyperpigmentation?

Uneven and darkened skin patches around your face, hands, or neck due to prolonged sun exposure or underlying skin or health issues represent hyperpigmented skin. This type of skin may also know as age spots or sunspots and is caused by increased or improper melanin production- the pigment responsible for skin, hair, and nails color.

What are the Causes of Hyperpigmentation

There are numerous reasons for hyperpigmented skin, but the most frequent may be:

  • Chemotherapy, antibiotics, antidepressants, or antimalarial drugs.
  • Prolonged and unprotected sun exposure i.e. without sunscreen
  • Skin disorders like inflammation or allergies
  • Certain diseases such as Addison’s disease,

Types of Hyperpigmentation

There are multiple kinds of hyperpigmentation; however, three most common types are:


Melasma occurs due to disturbance in hormonal balance that might be caused by pregnancy, child birth, hormonal therapy or contraceptive drugs. Studies suggest that about 90% melasma patients are women.  The dark spots caused by melasma show symmetrical patches and may be of brown, black, purple or red in color.

Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Excessive production of melanin in response to skin injury or wound may result in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The most common reasons of hyperpigmented skin are eczema, acne, burns, rashes, freckles, psoriasis, and skin lesions or allergies.


Sunspots appear more likely on face, hands, and sun exposed areas in the form of brown or black patches. They are not permanent and fade within months by preventing sun exposure.

Treatments for Hyperpigmentation


Prolonged sun exposure may result in dense darkened skin patches due to UVA and UVB radiations. The sunrays trigger latent melasma and melanin production. Applying sunscreen with SPF 30 or above can efficiently reduce the pigmented spots. Ensure applying sunscreen every time you’re going outside and after every 3-4 hours during sun exposure to reduce the damage caused by sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peeling is a procedure that includes removing the top layer of unhealthy skin cells in order to promote the growth of new healthy cells. It boosts collagen production and helps prevent wrinkles, fine lines, and blemishes. Chemical peeling exfoliates damaged and tanned skin, making your skin younger and brighter.


Microdermabrasion is a non-ablative exfoliation treatment that removes dead skin cells without damaging the skin. It diminishes aging spots, freckles, acne and melasma without causing any negative effects. The skin is gently rubbed with fine granules or coarse particles, resulting in a healthy and bright appearance. Depending on your skin type and age, and health, 3-6 treatment sessions are usually recommended for best results.

Microneedling Hyperpigmentation

Microneedling is one of the most effective and proven treatments for reversing hyperpigmentation or sun damage. It boosts collagen and elastin production, which is essential to restore skin juvenility. It is also a less risky and cost-effective procedure.

Intense Pulsed Light

Intense pulsed light, or IPL, is another excellent treatment option for hyperpigmentation. A broad-spectrum light with multiple wavelengths targets the skin’s more dense melanin cells. Melanin masses eventually break down, resulting in skin lightening. The process takes 20-30 minutes and does not cause any discomfort. The number of sessions required is determined by the type and severity of pigmentation.

Laser Treatment

Laser treatment is considered as the most effective therapy for hyperpigmentation. In this procedure, a beam of laser light hits and breaks down the melanin cells and cause a radiant glow. According to research, laser can effectively reduce the hyperpigmentation and melasma.

Multivitamin Intake

Hyperpigmentation issue can be resolved by regularly taking supplements that contain vitamins, fruit extracts, minerals, and collagen. These may diminish dark spots, restore collagen, and treat acne effectively.

Anti-pigmentation Medicines

Glycolic acid, hydroquinone, kojic acid, retinol, or vitamin C used as active agents in various topical products help lightening skin tone by reducing melanin production. Thus, they are effective to reduce the appearance of dark spots on the skin.

  • Vitamin C, is a rich antioxidant that is excellent for skin lightening. It rejuvenates skin by effectively fighting free radicals. It reduces melanin production, hence, boosting your skin glow and fairness.
  • Kojic acid inhibits tyrosinase synthesis that is important for the normal production of melanin. It contains the antioxidant properties thus, help combat skin damage caused by free radicals and stimulate cell regeneration.
  • Hydroquinone is a skin lightening agent that is good to fade dark spots, freckles, or acne scars by reducing melanocytes production.
  • Retinol Serum stimulates cell rejuvenation by reducing the dark spots and melanin synthesis.
  • Glycolic acid effectively increases the cells’ regeneration capacity and opens the clogged pores. Moreover, it also brightens the skin tone by reducing hyperpigmentation issues.

Concluding Remarks

Hyperpigmentation is a common skin disorder that can occur in any age or gender. Correct diagnosis and proper treatment can significantly fade or remove darkened skin patches. Always seek medical advice before using any medicine, as self-medication can aggravate the problem.

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