What is Hyperpigmentation? Treatment, Types, and Causes
Hyperpigmentation is a skin disorder in which some areas of skin become darker in color than the surrounding skin. It is a benign disorder caused by an excess of melanin, a brown pigment generated by the body that is responsible for normal skin tone.
Hyperpigmentation can afflict people of all races. Melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and aging spots are all examples of hyperpigmentation. Excessive sun exposure, inflammation, hormone disruption, drug reaction, and certain medical problems have all been linked to hyperpigmentation.
Although the disease is not dangerous, some people want to treat it. Avoiding sun exposure, utilizing topical creams containing retinoids, hydroquinone, azelaic acid, and kojic acid, or performing cosmetic procedures such as laser therapy and chemical peels can all help.
Key Facts of Hyperpigmentation
Usually seen in
Both men and women
Body part(s) involved
Necessary health tests/imaging
Specialists to consult
Different Types of Hyperpigmentation
Melasma, sunspots, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation are the most frequent kinds of hyperpigmentation.
- Melasma is thought to be induced by hormonal changes and might appear during pregnancy. Hyperpigmentation can occur anywhere on the body, but it is more frequent on the stomach and face.
- Sunspots commonly referred to as liver spots or solar lentigines are quite common. They are caused by prolonged sun exposure. They typically form as spots on sun-exposed areas such as the hands and face.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs as a result of skin damage or inflammation. Acne is a common cause of this kind.
What are the causes of Hyperpigmentation?
Skin cells produce a chemical called melanin, which gives skin its color. When skin cells are damaged or diseased, they might produce an excessive amount of melanin. Melanin might clump, making the region appear darker.
Hyperpigmentation can be caused by a variety of factors, including
- Adrenal problems, such as Addison's disease, which occurs when the body does not produce enough cortisol.
- Genetics, such as a freckled family.
- Hormone levels fluctuate, such as during puberty or pregnancy.
- Skin injury (such as acne, wounds, or burns), which is frequently referred to as postinflammatory hyperpigmentation.
- Light sensitivity, such as oral contraceptives can also be caused by medications.
- Certain vitamins, such as B12 and folic acid, are in short supply.
- Sun exposure (these spots are often called solar lentigines)
- Thyroid disorders
What are the Symptoms of Hyperpigmentation?
The development of darker spots on the skin is the primary symptom of hyperpigmentation. These can appear in patches of varying sizes and can appear anywhere on the body. The symptoms of the illness differ according to the type. The following are the most prevalent kinds of hyperpigmentation:
- Sunspots - Sunspots, solar lentigines, and age spots are all rather frequent. They are also known as liver spots, however, they are unrelated to any liver illness. They are caused by long-term overexposure to the sun. Sunspots are brown, black, or tan spots that occur on the face, back of the hands, and skin that has been exposed to the sun for an extended period of time.
- Melasma - Melasma, also known as chloasma, is characterized by hyperpigmented brown to grayish brown spots on the cheeks, upper lip, and forehead, as well as the forearms. It can affect the arms, neck, tummy, back, or any other region of the skin exposed to sunlight.
- Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) - The result of a skin injury or inflammation. It appears as darker skin patches or blotches. It frequently happens after an inflammatory skin disorder, such as acne or eczema. It commonly affects the face or neck.
How is Hyperpigmentation Diagnosed and Treated?
A dermatologist can determine what is causing your hyperpigmentation. They will ask for your medical history and perform a physical examination to establish the cause. A skin biopsy can help to narrow down the etiology in some circumstances.
Some types of hyperpigmentation can be treated with prescription topical medication. This drug typically contains hydroquinone, a skin-lightening agent.
Using topical retinoids can also help lighten dark patches on the skin. Sunscreen should also be used at home. Sunscreen is the single most important part of treating most causes of hyperpigmentation. Look for the following:
- A sunscreen that is physically inhibiting, particularly with zinc oxide as the major active element.
- SPF of 30 to 50 is recommended.
- Coverage of the entire spectrum
Use sunscreen every day. If you're out in the sun, reapply it every 2 hours, and more frequently if you're sweating or swimming.
How can I cope with age spots, sun spots, liver spots, and other forms of Hyperpigmentation?
The appearance of hyperpigmentation can make you feel self-conscious.
- Avoid sun damage.
- Be patient with any therapies you attempt because they can take months to show results.
- Don't pick at any flaws, such as acne.
- Join support groups or online chats to connect with people who have hyperpigmentation.
- Recognize that many people have hyperpigmentation and other flaws. You're not by yourself.
- Wash, exfoliate and moisturize your skin on a daily basis to keep it looking as healthy as possible.
Complications of Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is a harmless darkening of the skin that does not create any complications. Consult a doctor if your hyperpigmentation does not improve within a few months to rule out any underlying medical concerns.
Extra melanin or pigment is sometimes produced by the skin. This might result in blotches or regions of skin that appear darker than the surrounding skin. Although hyperpigmentation can make you feel self-conscious, it is a fairly common issue. Treatments and lifestyle adjustments may be beneficial. One of the most effective ways to prevent and minimize hyperpigmentation is to avoid sun exposure.
Frequently Asked Questions - Hyperpigmentation
What medications can cause hyperpigmentation?
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), tetracyclines, antimalarials, cytotoxic agents, and heavy metals are the most common causes of hyperpigmentation.
Does Hyperpigmentation resolve on its own?
Some types of hyperpigmentation, such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation caused by acne or inflammation, can go away on their own. However, there is no assurance of this, and it can deteriorate as a result of overexposure to sunshine.
How does Vitamin C work for the skin?
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that aids in the neutralization of free radicals. It also promotes collagen growth and aids in the reduction of melanin production, which can brighten the skin.
Is hyperpigmentation a sign of a medical condition?
If the size or color of your pigmented patches changes, you should see a doctor. Hyperpigmentation can be caused by diseases such as Addison's and hemochromatosis.