Charleston Dermatology Blog

Hyperpigmentation: Causes and Treatments

  • services
  • skin-conditions
  • skincare-tips

Have you recently looked in the mirror and found your skin looks patchy? This may not just be an uneven tan. From dark spots here and there to larger areas of discoloration, it’s not uncommon to notice hyperpigmentation appear as we age. But what causes our skin to change, and is there a way to treat it? Of course! Join us as we explore the Whats, Whys and Hows of hyperpigmentation.

What is hyperpigmentation?

Firstly, let’s cover the basics. Hyperpigmentation is not a disease but rather more of a cosmetic occurrence caused by an overproduction of melanin in the skin. Discoloration can show itself to varying degrees, ranging from smaller patches scattered on the skin to covering larger, more broad areas across entire body parts. 

Hyperpigmentation itself is generally regarded as harmless. However, its presence can often be seen as a sign of a more significant medical condition.

Why does hyperpigmentation occur?

There are several different forms of hyperpigmentation. These include melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and sunspots

Melasma occurs from an imbalance or fluctuation of hormones in the body. This form of hyperpigmentation commonly results from pregnancy but can also be caused as a side effect of fluctuating hormones from medications.

Meanwhile, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and sunspots result from skin damage, with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation caused by injury or inflammation and sunspots developing from the skin’s overexposure to the sun. 

How is hyperpigmentation treated?

There are several effective treatments for reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation. By working with your board-certified dermatologist, you will be able to identify your cause for discoloration and create a treatment plan best suited for you. Hyperpigmentation treatment plans can include any of the following:

  • Topical Medications – Topical medications, such as retinoids or those containing hydroquinone, may be prescribed to help lighten the appearance of the skin. Treatments via these medications can be ongoing for several months for effective results. 
  • Laser Therapy or Chemical Peels – Depending on your skin type and cause, your doctor may recommend laser therapy or chemical peel treatments to help reduce discoloration. These should always be done under the care of a board-certified dermatologist.

Can hyperpigmentation be prevented?

Seeing as overexposure to sunlight is one of the most common causes of skin discoloration, it should come as no surprise that regular sunscreen application is one of the most effective defenses against hyperpigmentation. Use these sunscreen tips to help protect your skin:

  • Use a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen of SPF 30+
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours
  • Choose water-resistant sunscreens whenever possible

Additional practices that can help you reduce your risk of developing hyperpigmentation include avoiding outdoor activities during peak sunlight hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), seeking shade whenever possible and wearing UV protective clothing over unprotected skin.

Charleston Dermatology is here for you!

Protecting your skin is about more than your looks. It’s also about aiding your body’s first line of defense from germs and disease! Proper skin care is essential, and our team has your back. At Charleston Dermatology, our board-certified dermatologists are here to help your skin look and feel its best. Contact us today to schedule a visit with one of our board-certified dermatologists.

Subscribe to our Newsletter