What Is Hyperpigmentation And How It Can Be Treated?

Posted by molanparker on May 12th, 2016

Generally, pigmentation appears on the face, hands and neck in the form of dark spots or patches which are often difficult to hide and cause significant stress. These spots or patches appear usually on the visible parts of the body that are exposed to the UV sun rays.

What is hyperpigmentation and why it happens?

Hyperpigmentation results from the overproduction of melanin (skin colour pigment) at certain skin spots. This results in the flat and dark skin patches that range from light brown to dark brown or black in colour. They can also have varied sizes and shapes.

Common types of hyperpigmentation

Though there are numerous types of hyperpigmentation but the most common types include the following;

•    Pigmented spots: these are also referred to as age spots result from sun exposure. Therefore, these appear mainly on the body parts which are frequently visible like arms, face, neck and hands. They appear as small dark skin patches.

•    Melasma: also called cholasma or marks of pregnancy because 90% of pregnant women have these on their skin. It is a result of the hormonal fluctuations such as during pregnancy, taking birth control pills. It appears are irregular darkened areas on face or arms and can be large in size.

•   Post Inflammatory hyperpigmentation:  It occurs on the skin due to some skin injury or trauma that heals whileleaving a discoloured area of skin. Usually, it's seen in sufferers of acne and can also result from the cosmetic treatments such as chemical skin peel, microdermabrasion, or laser treatment.

In addition to these, there are some other factors which contribute towards hyperpigmentation such as the appearance of moles, birthmarks, scars, skin cancers, actinic keratoses but these are not types of hyperpigmentation .

What cause the appearance of hyperpigmentation?

The underlying of a cause of hyperpigmentation is melanin overproduction. It is a colour pigment in the skin which gives the natural colour to the skin, hair and eyes. There are various factors which trigger abnormal production of melanin but the main contributing factors are considered to be genetic, sun exposure, age, hormonal changes, and inflammation or injuries to the skin.

The major contributing factors

•    Sun exposure: This is undoubtedly the major cause of hyperpigmentation because sunlight in the first place triggers melanin production. Melanin is actually a natural sun protection which protects you from the harmful UV sun rays. This is the reason that people get tan complexion in a sun. But an excessive exposure to sunlight leads to hyperpigmentation. If you already have developed dark spots or hyperpigmentation, it can further be exacerbated be exposure to sunlight leading to melasma, age spots, freckles and Post Inflammatory hyperpigmentation(PIH). This can be prevented by limiting an exposure to sunlight, wearing long sleeved and protective clothes, sunglasses and daily use of broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

•    Hormonal changes: The fluctuations in hormonal levels in body especially in women leads to melasma. It is considered to be produced as a result of stimulation of melanin by female sex hormones called oestrogen and progesterone when skin is exposed to sun rays. It is more common in darker skinned people.

•    A side effect of illness or medication: Hyperpigmentation can also be a symptom of illness such as gastrointestinal diseases, deficiencies of vitamin, or metabolic disorders.

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