What is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is a condition of the skin in which it appears darker than usual. It is typically triggered by an underlying condition, though sunlight exposure is the most commonly known trigger of hyperpigmentation. Some prescribed medications can also trigger the condition. In some individuals, especially pregnant women, a specific type of hyperpigmentation known as melasma can cause areas of the face to darken in splotches. Sunspots and acne scarring are also forms of hyperpigmentation.
Signs and Symptoms of Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation can vary from person to person in the way it presents. General signs of the condition include:
- An overall and suddenly presenting darkening of the skin
- Splotches of brown or tan, flat patches around the face or chest
- Dark spots where acne has just healed
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is the result of the melanocytes in the skin producing more melanin, the substance that gives color to skin. This state can be triggered in several ways. Hormonal fluctuations, such as during pregnancy, can cause the condition. Some diseases, such as Addison’s disease, and certain prescription drugs can also cause hyperpigmentation. Those with darker complexions are at a higher risk of developing the condition since their skin contains more melanocytes. Excessive sun exposure can also increase hyperpigmentation.
How Hyperpigmentation is Treated
In some cases, as a first step, your practitioner may suggest further testing or biopsy to determine the cause of your hyperpigmentation. Treating the condition can involve topical prescription medication such as hydroquinone and topical retinoids, which lighten the color of the skin. Wearing sunscreen on a daily basis is also recommended, as this can limit further development of the condition and lessen the appearance of some forms of hyperpigmentation.