Hyperpigmentation is the name that healthcare professionals give to patches of skin that become darker than surrounding areas of skin.

Types of hyperpigmentation include

Age spots, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Each of these has different causes and a range of treatments and products, including creams and cosmetic procedures. We discuss these below.

What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin produces more melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. This can make spots or patches of skin appear darker than surrounding areas. 

Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition. It affects people of all skin types.

Some forms of hyperpigmentation, including melasma and sun spots, are more likely to affect areas of skin that face sun exposure, including the face, arms, and legs.

Other types of hyperpigmentation form after an injury or skin inflammation, such as cuts, burns, acne, or lupus. These can occur anywhere on the body.

Having extra pigment in some areas of skin is usually harmless but can sometimes indicate another medical condition.

How to get rid of hyperpigmentation?

Although hyperpigmentation is harmless, some people wish to get rid of it. There are a range of possible treatment methods and home remedies that people can try.

To prevent hyperpigmentation, or to stop it becoming more prominent:

Avoid exposure to the sun. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect the skin and stop hyperpigmentation from becoming darker.

Avoid picking at the skin. To prevent hyperpigmentation from forming after an injury, avoid picking at spots, scabs, and acne.

Types and symptoms

1. Age spots, also called liver spots or solar lentigines symptom: Brown, tan, or black spots that appear on skin with sun overexposure.

Where on the body?

-They commonly appear on the face and hands, or on sun-exposed areas of the body.

Who can it affect?

- Age spots usually appear on older adults or after extended sun exposure

2. Post-inflammatory  hyperpigmentation symptom

Spots or patches of darkened skin that appear after an inflammatory skin condition, such as acne or eczema.

Where on the body?

- They usually appear on the face or neck,hands ,back,feets ,knee,elbows

Who can it affect?

- People who have had inflammation or an injury to the skin.

Causes of hyperpigmentation 

The cause of hyperpigmentation depends on the type. The most common causes of hyperpigmentation are: 

Sun exposure:

The body produces more melanin to protect the skin from prolonged exposure to the sun. This can cause dark spots or patches on the skin called age spots or sun spots.

Skin inflammation:

Areas of skin can darken after people have had inflammation of the skin. This can include acne, eczema, lupus, or an injury to the skin. People with darker skin are more likely to develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Reactions to drug use: 

Certain medications, such as antimalarial drugs and tricyclic antidepressants, can cause hyperpigmentation. In these cases, patches of skin may turn gray. Chemicals in topical treatments can also sometimes cause hyperpigmentation.

Medical conditions:

More serious causes of hyperpigmentation include Addison's disease and hemochromatosis. Addison's disease affects the adrenal glands. It can cause hyperpigmentation in certain areas of the body, including:folds of skin lips elbows and knees knuckles, toe, inside of the cheek.

People can try the following treatments to lighten dark patches of skin and remove hyperpigmentation:

Topical creams:

Many people use topical treatments to treat hyperpigmentation. Topical treatments will include ingredients that lighten the skin, such as:

  • azelaic acid
  • corticosteroids
  • hydroquinone
  • kojic acid 
  • retinoids, such as tretinoin
  • vitamin C

Cosmetic procedures

Some cosmetic procedures can also lighten areas of skin to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

Cosmetic procedures for hyperpigmentation include:

1. Laser therapy - 3-4 sessions are needed .different type of lasers are there to treat the pigmentation like ipl,q-switch(etc)

2. Intense pulsed light - 5-8 session are required which should be  every week with the combination of other treatment 

3. Chemical peels- it works wonderfully on the uneven skin. Different type of peels are done on the patient according to the requirement of skin condition .

Superficial peels -5-8 session are required 

Medium  peels-4-5 sessions are required in the interval of 3 weeks 

Deep peels -generally one session is needed 

4. Microdermabrasion -it reduces pigmentation and uneven tone .no of sessions are needed according to the skin condition of a patient.