What Causes Hyperpigmentation and What are the Best Treatments to Reduce Skin Discoloration?

Hyperpigmentation occurs when patches of skin become darker compared to the surrounding areas. This occurs when extra melanin is produced by the skin. Melanin refers to the pigment that gives color to the skin. Hyperpigmentation can affect people regardless of skin types.

Hyperpigmentation is more common among those people of color as they are known to have higher melanin. Acne, bruises, rashes, burns and other skin trauma can also cause more melanin production. Eventually, this can also result to the formation of dark spots. Fortunately, pigmentation removal is an option nowadays.

Some health conditions and medications can also cause hyperpigmentation to develop. Those who are looking for pigmentation removal options often suffer from any of the following: liver or age spots, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and melasma.

Possible Causes of Hyperpigmentation

Below are some of the prevalent causes of hyperpigmentation:

Skin Inflammation

Certain areas can darken after skin inflammation. Skin inflammation can include lupus, acne, eczema, and skin injury. Those people with dark skin are more prone to developing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.


When hormonal changes occur, dark patches of skin can also develop. This kind of hyperpigmentation is considered very common during pregnancy.

Sun Exposure

To ensure the skin stays protected during prolonged sun exposure, the body produces extra melanin. This can lead to dark patches or spots on the skin. These patches are also referred to as sun or age spots.

Drug Use Reaction

Tricyclic antidepressants, antimalarial drugs, and other medications can also result in hyperpigmentation. In some instances, the skin patches can turn grey. Chemicals found in topical treatments can also lead to hyperpigmentation.

Medical Conditions

Two serious conditions that can cause hyperpigmentation include hemochromatosis and Addison’s disease. The latter affects the adrenal glands. The former on the other hand is a condition that is inherited and causes the body to have too much iron. It can also cause the skin to appear tanned or darker.

Treatment Options

Generally, hyperpigmentation is harmless and won’t require any treatment at all. However, many people would want to get rid of it for cosmetic purposes. Fortunately, there is no shortage of treatment options to get rid of hyperpigmentation.

Topical Creams

Many people treat hyperpigmentation using topic creams. Most topical treatments have ingredients that can easily lighten the skin. Some of the topical creams include:

  • Vitamin C
  • Arbutin
  • Niacinamide
  • Azelaic Acid
  • Kojic Acid
  • Retinoids
  • Mequinol
  • Corticosteroids

Creams that contain hydroquinone and steroids will need at least three to six months to  take effect. Check with your doctor first prior to using products that lighten the skin to avoid any possible adverse effects.

Cosmetic Procedures

Certain procedures can help lighten certain areas of the skin. It can also help minimize hyperpigmentation. Some of the procedures include:

  • Chemical peels
  • Intense pulse light
  • Laser therapy

Those considering any of the procedures should discuss the treatment as well as the likely side effects with a dermatologist.

Home Remedies

Below are some of the home remedies that can help with hyperpigmentation:

  • Aloe Vera. A compound in aloe vera known as aloesin has been proven effective in lightening dark spots. The compound works by preventing melanin production.
  • An extract called glabridin is found in licorice. It has been known to help with hyperpigmentation as is also known for their antioxidant and inflammatory capabilities.
  • Green tea. Extracts from green tea have also been known to help with hyperpigmentation. Those who have studied green tea also bank on its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, there is limited research right now that proves its effectiveness against sunburn and melasma.

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