Types of Hyperpigmentation and How to Manage Them

If you notice some patches of skin appearing darker compared to surrounding areas, you may be experiencing hyperpigmentation. Fortunately, whether it’s on your face or body, there are ways you can eliminate them.

Hyperpigmentation is a common condition that affects all skin types. It may appear in small patches, affect large areas, or cover a person’s entire body. Their existence generally doesn’t cause any harm. However, we understand if you would rather get rid of them.

Learn more about the different hyperpigmentation types, triggers, and removal methods.

What Are the Types of Hyperpigmentation?

There are a variety of types of skin hyperpigmentation. The most common ones are:

#1 Melasma

Pregnant women are more likely to develop melasma

Melasma, also known as chloasma or the “mask of pregnancy” causes dark, discoloured patches to appear on your skin. Although it can appear on any area of your body, it usually manifests on the face, neck, forearms, and stomach. It’s also symmetrical, so your face will have matching marks on both sides.

Though this skin condition affects all sexes, the following people are more likely to develop it:

    • people who are pregnant
    • people who are taking birth control pills
    • people with darker skin
    • women

#2 Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a result of inflammation or injury to the skin commonly caused by acne or eczema. Once your skin is clear of acne, it may leave patches or spots of darkened skin. You may notice these discolourations on your face and neck. This condition can affect those with darker complexions or who have had an injury or inflammation on their skin.

#3 Sunspots

Sunspots occur as a result of overexposure to UV rays

Also known as age spots, liver spots, or solar lentigines, sunspots are pale to dark brown spots on the skin. They are flat and are usually darker than their surrounding skin. These can look brown, black, or gray. You may see these on the following parts of your body:

    • face
    • shoulders
    • upper back
    • arms
    • hands
    • tops of the feet

Sunspots can affect older adults and people who have been under the sun for an extended period.

What Causes Hyperpigmentation?

Triggers vary depending on the hyperpigmentation type. Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Sun Exposure

Prolonged sun exposure

Prolonged exposure to the sun also affects melanin production because your body will produce more of it to protect your skin. It can cause patches on your skin called sunspots.

  • Medical Conditions

Medical conditions, such as Addison’s disease and hemochromatosis, can also cause hyperpigmentation on your skin.

Addison’s disease or adrenal insufficiency affects the adrenal glands. It can also cause hyperpigmentation in the following parts of the body:

    • elbows and knees
    • folds of skin
    • inside of the cheek
    • knuckles
    • lips
    • toes

Meanwhile, a person who has hemochromatosis has too much iron in their body. It may also cause hyperpigmentation, which makes their skin look darker or tanned.

  • Reaction to Certain Medications

Some medications can cause hyperpigmentation

Tricyclic antidepressants and antimalarial drugs may cause hyperpigmentation. Patches of skin can turn gray as a reaction to these particular medicines.

Additionally, some chemotherapy drugs and chemicals in topical treatments may cause this skin condition as a side effect.

  • Melanin

Excess production of melanin can cause hyperpigmentation. Skin cells called melanocytes are responsible for producing these to give your skin its colour. Some many factors or conditions may change the melanin production in your body.

  • Skin Inflammation

Areas of the skin may darken after it heals from inflammation like acne, eczema, lupus, or a skin injury. As mentioned, darker skin has a higher chance of developing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation Treatments

Fortunately, there are many treatments available for people who are dealing with hyperpigmentation. If you’re one of them, here are some options you can look into:

  • Lightening Creams

Lightening creams can help reduce hyperpigmentation

These products are over-the-counter (OTC) treatments that use specific ingredients to help reduce hyperpigmentation. Many of these are available in prescription forms, and they also come in gel form. Generally, you can apply these once or twice a day to help lighten your skin over time.

Here are some common ingredients you can find in these OTC lightening creams:

    • hydroquinone
    • licorice extract
    • N-acetylglucosamine
    • niacinamide

Lightening creams or gels are most effective for flat spots like age spots or melasma. They work best for patches of discolouration on most skin types. Still, while these products are accessible options for this skin condition, they may take longer to work than professional treatments.

  • Chemical Peel

Chemical peels treat the target area using acids at strong concentrations. By removing the epidermis, they decrease the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Stronger versions allow for a much deeper cleanse, penetrating into the dermis to yield more dramatic results.

While you can buy many OTC chemical peels, consider getting a professional-grade peel with a skincare professional. These produce quicker results because of their strength. Since they’re more powerful, consult with a professional to decrease the risk for side effects. These include blistering, irritation, and redness. Be sure to use OTC peels properly to prevent blisters or scars.

However, chemical peels might not be for you if you regularly go out in the sun. This treatment makes your skin more sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Without the proper UV protection, the sun can worsen your hyperpigmentation. Make sure to take extra care of your skin for at least one week after your last chemical peel.

Chemical peels are effective for fairer skin tones. They can also work if you have the following:

    • blotchy skin
    • melasma
    • sun damage
    • sunspots
  • Face Acids

Also known as skin acids, face acids work by shedding or exfoliating the top layer of your skin. New skin cells come out and replace the old ones when you exfoliate your skin. It helps to make your skin smoother while evening out your skin tone.

You can purchase these products OTC at drugstores and beauty stores. Here are some available options:

Face acids are most effective for mild hyperpigmentation on fairer skin tones.

  • Retinoids

Retinoids are from vitamin A. With their small molecular structure, they can deeply penetrate your skin and treat the layers under the epidermis.

These products are available in either an OTC formula or prescription. Although, OTC versions tend to be weaker. You may want to consult with a skincare professional if you can’t observe any results after a couple of months.

  • Intense Pulse Light Therapy

IPL procedures can treat other skin issues

Also known as photofacial, IPL therapy is a kind of non-ablative laser treatment that stimulates collagen growth within the dermis. You may need multiple sessions to see results.

You can choose this treatment for overall pigmentation issues. However, it’s most effective for flat spots. It can also help reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, spider veins, and wrinkles.

  • Laser Peel

With this treatment, a skincare professional uses targeted beams of light to decrease hyperpigmentation.

Two types of lasers are available:

    • Ablative lasers involve removing layers of your skin and are the most intense. Since they’re stronger, they might cause more side effects. Ablative lasers work well for fair skin.
    • Non-ablative lasers target the dermis to encourage collagen growth and tightening effects. Their objective is to make sure that new skin cells grow back tighter and more toned. However, non-ablative procedures may darken skin instead of lightening it.

Consult with a skin professional to know which laser suits your skin and discolouration.

Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition that appears in different forms and affects all skin types. It’s generally harmless, and there are various ways to remove it.

If you want to remove hyperpigmentation from your skin, we here at em clinic are ready to help you. Our team offers excellent customized treatment for brown spots. For inquiries or to book an appointment, call us at (519) 668-7449 or email us at info@emclinicandspa.com.