What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is a condition
that causes the skin to darken. It can occur in small patches. And it can cover
large areas or affect the entire body. This condition usually isn’t harmful, but
it can be a symptom of another medical condition.
Types of hyperpigmentation
There are several types of
- Melasma is
believed to be caused by hormonal changes and develops during pregnancy. Areas
of hyperpigmentation can appear on any area of the body. They appear most
commonly on the abdomen and face.
or solar lentigines, are common. They’re related to excess sun exposure over
time. Generally, they appear as spots of hyperpigmentation on areas exposed to
the sun, like the hands and face.
hyperpigmentation is a result of an injury to
What are the symptoms of hyperpigmentation?
Darkened areas of the skin are
the only symptoms of hyperpigmentation. Patches can be various sizes and can develop
anywhere on the body.
What are the risk factors for hyperpigmentation?
Sun exposure can increase melanin
production. Greater exposure to the sun increases the risk of developing
What causes hyperpigmentation?
A common cause of
hyperpigmentation is an excess production of melanin. Melanin is a pigment that
gives skin its color. And it’s produced by skin cells called melanocytes.
Several different conditions or factors can alter the production of melanin in
Certain medications can cause
hyperpigmentation. Also, some chemotherapy drugs can cause hyperpigmentation as
a side effect, according to the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer
Pregnancy changes hormone levels
and can affect melanin production in some women.
Endocrine diseases, like Addison’s
disease, disrupt hormone levels and can increase melanin production. A lot of sun
exposure can also cause an increase in melanin.
How is hyperpigmentation diagnosed?
A dermatologist can diagnose
hyperpigmentation. They will take your medical history and give you a physical exam
to determine the cause. In some cases, a skin biopsy can rule out skin cancer.
How is hyperpigmentation treated?
Topical prescription medication can treat some cases of
hyperpigmentation. This medication usually contains hydroquinone, which
bleaches skin. The medication can take a few months to lighten darkened areas.
Home care sometimes includes
over-the-counter medications that may lighten dark spots. These medications don’t
contain as much hydroquinone as prescription medications. Home care also
includes using sunscreen.
Your doctor may also suggest
laser treatment to reduce hyperpigmentation.
What is the outlook for hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is not harmful
and usually isn’t a sign of a serious medical condition. In some cases,
darkened areas of the skin fade on their own. In others, the dark spots fade
with treatment. Even if treatment can’t completely reverse hyperpigmentation,
it may improve the condition.
How is hyperpigmentation prevented?
not always possible to prevent hyperpigmentation. Using sunscreen can help. Avoiding
certain medications may also prevent hyperpigmentation.