What is hyperpigmentation? Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition that causes areas of the skin to become darker in color than normal. This can occur as a result of sun exposure, age, pregnancy, or certain medical conditions. It can:
Though increased pigmentation is not dangerous, it is a sign of another disease or condition. There are several different types of hyperpigmentation, each with its own unique set of symptoms. Some of the common types are post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, sunspots, and melasma.
If you are experiencing increased pigmentation, it is important to meet with a dermatologist to determine the underlying cause. Treatment will vary depending on the type of hyper skin pigmentation you have.
Symptoms of hyperpigmentation
Here are some of the common symptoms of hyperpigmentation:
Causes of hyperpigmentation
Aging: With age, the production of melanin decreases, leading to a lighter skin tone. It begins as age spots, which are flat, brown patches on the skin. It can also lead to a condition called hypopigmentation, in which the skin becomes lighter overall.
Hormonal changes: Many women experience hyperpigmentation around their mouth and chin during pregnancy, as a result of the hormonal changes. It usually fades after giving birth but may return during menopause.
Occupational: Some jobs, such as those that require regular exposure to the sun or chemicals, can cause hyperpigmentation. Too much sun exposure can cause the skin to produce more melanin, leading to dark patches, called solar lentigines. These are most common in people with fair complexion.
Developmental: Some babies are born with patches of hyperpigmentation, called Mongolian spots. These usually fade within a few years. Also, certain medical conditions can cause hyperpigmentation, such as Addison’s disease, lichen planus, and vitiligo. Some medications, such as birth control pills and acne medications, can trigger hyperpigmentation. A skin injury, such as a burn or a wound, can cause the skin to become darker in that area.
What are the treatment options for hyperpigmentation?
Topicals: There are a variety of topicals that can be used for treating hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone is the most commonly prescribed topical for this condition. It inhibits the production of melanin. Kojic acid and azelaic acid are also effective at lightening dark spots. These medications should be applied two times a day, every day, for the best results. It can take several months of use to see a significant improvement in pigmentation. Consult with your doctor to see if a topical is right for you.
Lasers: Lasers are also an effective hyperpigmentation treatment. Lasers break up the melanin deposits in the skin. This causes the spots to lighten over time. There are a variety of lasers that can be used for this purpose, including pulsed dye lasers, Q-switched lasers, and CO2 lasers. If you are considering laser treatment for hyperpigmentation, it is important to find a qualified dermatologist who can recommend the best laser for your specific needs. The laser treatments are not always 100% successful and may require multiple treatments to achieve the desired results. But for the right person, laser treatment can be a very effective way to reduce hyperpigmentation.
Oral medications: Oral medications can also be used to treat hyperpigmentation. These medications work by suppressing the production of melanin. The most commonly prescribed oral medication for this condition is hydroxychloroquine. It is taken once a day and should be taken for at least six months for the best results. Other oral medications that can be prescribed include azelaic acid, mequinol, and tretinoin. These medications are all effective at treating hyperpigmentation, but they do have some side effects. It is recommended to consult with a doctor before starting any of these medications. Oral medications can be very helpful in treating hyperpigmentation and can provide significant results when used correctly.