What Is Hyperpigmentation?
is a condition that causes the skin to darken. It can occur in small patches or
cover large areas of the body. It can also affect the entire body.
Hyperpigmentation is usually not harmful. But it can be a symptom of another
Types of Hyperpigmentation
are several types of hyperpigmentation.
- Melasma is believed to
be caused by hormonal changes. It commonly develops during pregnancy. Areas of
hyperpigmentation can appear on any area of the body. They are most common on
the abdomen and face.
- Sunspots, or solar
lentigines, are common. They are related to excess sun exposure over time. They
generally appear as spots of hyperpigmentation on areas frequently exposed to
the sun, such as the hands and face.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
is a result of prior injury to the skin (American
College of Osteopathic Dermatology).
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
common cause of hyperpigmentation is excess production of melanin. Melanin is a
pigment that gives skin its color. It is produced by skin cells called
melanocytes. Several different conditions or factors may alter the production
of melanin in the body.
Certain medications can cause
hyperpigmentation. Some chemotherapy drugs can cause hyperpigmentation as a
side effect (University of New Mexico Cancer
changes hormone levels. This appears to affect melanin production in some
diseases such as Addison’s disease can cause hyperpigmentation. Addison’s
disease affects the adrenal glands and hormone production. The disruption of hormone
levels can increase melanin production (Medline Plus).
sun exposure causes an increase in melanin. This can cause patches of
hyperpigmentation to develop .
What Are the Risk Factors for Hyperpigmentation?
exposure can increase melanin production. With more exposure to the sun comes a
higher risk of developing hyperpigmentation.
also increases a woman’s chances of developing hyperpigmentation.
What Are the Symptoms of Hyperpigmentation?
areas of the skin are the only symptoms of hyperpigmentation. Patches of
hyperpigmentation may be various sizes. They can develop anywhere on the body.
How Is Hyperpigmentation Diagnosed?
A dermatologist can diagnose hyperpigmentation.
A medical history and exam will help to determine the cause of
hyperpigmentation. In some instances, a skin biopsy will be taken, to rule out
How Is Hyperpigmentation Treated?
prescription medication can treat some cases of hyperpigmentation. This
medication usually contains hydroquinone, which bleaches the skin. The
medication can take a few months to reduce areas of hyperpigmentation.
doctor may also suggest laser treatments.
care sometimes includes over-the-counter medications, which may fade dark spots.
These medications do not contain as much hydroquinone as prescription
medications. Home care also includes the use of sunscreen. If the skin already
has areas of hyperpigmentation, exposure to the sun can make the skin
What Is the Outlook for Hyperpigmentation?
is not harmful and is usually not a sign of any serious medical condition. In
some cases, darkened areas of the skin fade on their own without treatment. In others,
hyperpigmentation fades with treatment. Even if treatment is not able to
completely reverse hyperpigmentation, it may improve the condition.
How Is Hyperpigmentation Prevented?
not always possible to prevent hyperpigmentation. Using sunscreen can reduce
sun damage and prevent hyperpigmentation. Avoiding certain medications may also