7 Causes of Hyperpigmentation You Should Be Aware Of July 1, 2016

Worried about your hyperpigmentation? Well, as you know, the human skin is prone to a large number of problems. From genetics to bad hygiene, many factors can play a key role behind the health of your skin. There are a large number of common skin diseases and conditions, for which treatment options are available today. Modern medicine has allowed us to know more about various skin problems. Most skin diseases today are easily treatable through medication, if not through home remedies. One such skin problem, which we are more aware of today, is hyperpigmentation.

What Causes Hyperpigmentation?

Even if you know what skin condition you are suffering from, it is important to know what is causing the condition. Hyperpigmentation is essentially caused by the excess production of melanin by the melanocyte cells of our body. A number of factors encourage the abnormal increase in melanin production.

Causes of Hyperpigmentation:

Here are the most commonly known causes behind the excess melanin production, which result in hyperpigmentation.

1. Inflammation Caused by Sunlight:

We all know that sunlight makes our skin darker. But tanning might not leave you with a uniformly tanned skin. For many, tanning can lead to hyperpigmentation. When our skin is exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun, it produces an inflammatory response. This response takes place right at the moment your skin is exposed to sunlight, but the levels are so low that it goes unnoticed. Yet, if you keep your skin exposed to sunlight for a longer period of time, the inflammation levels increase.

When the inflammation levels are high, our bodies start producing inflammatory mediators. These hormones are responsible for a large number of skin reactions. The activation of melanocytes is one of the responses caused by these hormones. Once the melanocytes are activated, the melanin production begins. Over the years, if your skin is exposed to the sun for prolonged periods of time, the melanocytes might remain permanently active. So, we see that inflammation caused by sunlight exposure is the main cause behind melanin production in our skin.

2. Skin Damage:

Anything from a cut to a pimple can damage your skin, leading to excess melanin production. When you have any kind of skin damage, your body copes with it by producing an inflammatory reaction. This reaction again leads to the activation of the melanocytes in our skin. Apart from an inflammatory reaction, when your skin is injured, it might not be able to regenerate the skin pigments, which were there before. When the skin pigments cannot be regenerated, darker pigments get generated over the damaged area. Any kind of skin disease like eczema can also be a factor behind hyperpigmentation.

3. Allergic Reactions:

When you experience any kind of allergic reaction, your skin might have an inflammatory reaction. If you are severely allergic to something, your body might go into overdrive when you come into contact with that substance. And that causes skin irritation. There are high chances of your skin showing inflammatory reactions. For example, poison ivy might end up activating the melanocytic cells, resulting in hyperpigmentation.

4. Medication:

There are many medicines, which might show hyperpigmentation as a side effect. Topical retinoids, antibiotics, anti-seizure drugs, hormone medication, non-steroidal drugs as well as chemotherapeutic drugs can lead to hyperpigmentation. Again, we see that the medication might cause hormonal changes in our bodies, which can lead to the activation of the melanocytic cells. When the cells are activated, there is an excess production of melanin. Hyperpigmentation can be a side effect of many medications, which one might be forced to use.

5. Improper Hair Removal:

Facial hair removal might lead to hyperpigmentation. But, you do not have to worry about hyperpigmentation, whenever you need to get rid of facial hair. Threading or even shaving does not cause hyperpigmentation. When you remove the hair from the root or expose the root to harsh chemicals, chances are that it will cause an inflammatory response. If you choose to tweeze, wax or use depilatory creams, use mild skin products till your skin heals and goes back to normal.

6. Hormonal Change:

The rise in estrogen and progesterone levels generally caused by pregnancy or birth control pills can be one of the causes of hyperpigmentation. The hormonal changes can result in a boost in melanin production. This condition, where melanin production is boosted by estrogen or progesterone, is known as melasma. For many, the hyperpigmentation can disappear post pregnancy, but it might not be the case for others.

7. Genetic:

For many individuals, hyperpigmentation is a condition that is embedded in their DNA. Though hyperpigmentation is hereditary, it might skip generations. If there is someone in your family, who suffers from severe hyperpigmentation, there are chances of you acquiring the skin condition. If you are genetically more inclined to have hyperpigmentation, then even the slightest allergic reaction, sun exposure, hormonal change or skin damage can cause hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition, which causes darkening of the skin. This skin condition results in patches of dark skin in various parts of the body. The saving grace of this skin condition is the fact that it causes next to no physical discomfort. The problem caused by this skin condition is rather visual than physical. Many people choose to leave the condition untreated, since it does not have any physical repercussions. At the same time, hyperpigmentation might foretell a more severe health hazard.

This skin condition is more common in people of Asian, African and Mediterranean ethnicities. Though this skin condition leads to skin darkening, we see that there are mild variations in the kinds of hyperpigmentation. The variations are determined by the causes behind the hyperpigmentation. The skin condition is different from other kinds of skin pigmentation problems. If you notice dark patches on your skin, you should visit a dermatologist before trying to diagnose the skin condition by yourself. Your dermatologist might be able to know the skin condition just by looking at it. For severe conditions, the dermatologist might prescribe a skin biopsy to understand the condition better.

Treatments for Hyperpigmentation:

Once you have identified the reason behind your hyperpigmentation, you can choose the kind of treatment. There are a few treatments, which seem to work wonderfully for most people with hyperpigmentation. Here are the best treatments for hyperpigmentation:

1. Home Remedies:

Home treatments for hyperpigmentation might work, only if the skin condition is less severe.

  • Aloe Vera cream/oil, vitamin E oil shows quick results
  • Intake of lots of water to flush out the toxins for a healthy and glowing skin
  • Rub a slice of lime across the darkened patches
  • Multani mitti mixed with rose water lightens dark patches
  • Raw potato juice does the trick for many
  • Mix a few drops of lime juice with honey and leave it on the darkened patch for a few minutes
  • Lemon juice mixed with basil leaves and applied over dark circles and patches can reduce discolouration
  • Mix oatmeal, milk and brown sugar in equal parts and use to rub across skin
  • Massage cocoa butter on affected skin for a few weeks
  • A few drops of lemon juice with your regular simple face cream reduces the patches
  • Apply cucumber juice or wash your face with boiled some cumin seeds
  • Rose water is an all-purpose beauty essential that works wonders on all skin types
  • Use a paste of dry orange peels powder with water works or a mash up of guava and banana pieces
  • Soak almonds overnight, grind them and add milk to use it as a paste
  • Vinegar with water proves to be a quick fix
  • Avoid excessive intake of tea, coffee, chocolates, excess spices, acidic food
  • Applying raw papaya juice or the pulp of a ripe papaya is a sure formula to reduce pigmentation

But, we see that home remedies can only work for a few hyperpigmentation conditions. It is best to opt for professional help, when dealing with hyperpigmentation.

2. Over the Counter Medications:

If you choose to treat yourself without the help of a professional, you can opt for over the counter medications. There are several skin lightening creams available in the market. You can also opt for any kind of medication, which has Retin-A or alpha-hydroxy acid.

3. Topical Medication:

If you want to go to a dermatologist, he might suggest for topical applications, which contain alpha hydroxyl acid. The only FDA-approved skin lightening treatment is Hydroquinone. This is the most commonly prescribed topical treatment. Kojic acid, which is a fungus derivative, also acts like Hydroquinone. Azelaic acid was developed to treat acne, but it is also effective when dealing with hyperpigmentation. Mandelic acid is derived from almonds, and can be used for all kinds of hyperpigmentation. These are the most commonly prescribed topical medications for hyperpigmentation.

4. Non-Ablative Remedies:

For many individuals with more severe hyperpigmentation, topical medication might not be the solution. There are a few non ablative remedies, which your dermatologist might prescribe instead. Skin peels like salicylic acid peels are recommended by dermatologists to help to lighten the dark patches after a few uses. Intense Pulsed Light is a technology, which uses different wavelengths of light to clear out the dark patches of skin. Laser skin resurfacing is another procedure, which uses lasers to remove the pigmentation caused by melanin.

5. Microdermabrasion:

This is a medical procedure, which wears off layers of your skin, clearing out the layer in which the pigmentation has occurred. This process can cause internal skin bleeding, and is a very delicate procedure. It is important to get the procedure performed by an expert.

6. Preventive Measures:

If you are genetically prone to acquire hyperpigmentation, it is best to take preventive measures.

  • Whether you step out or not, use a sunscreen to protect you from harmful UVA rays, which is one of the primary causes to this condition.
  • Avoid tan by wearing long sleeved clothes, sunglasses.
  • Do not burst or prick pimples, rashes and other inflammations.
  • Make sure you have a good amount of vitamin C in your diet.
  • Avoid any creams, lotions or face products that may cause a burning sensation.
  • Avoid too much makeup, especially on the affected area. It may hide the pigmentation, but it may also harm the skin.
  • Visit a dermatologist to discuss the signs of pigmentation and share previous medical history too.
  • Try not to opt for procedures, which can scar your skin
  • Prevent acne outbreaks by taking proper care of your skin.


You need to take proper precautions in the sun by covering up as much of your skin as you can. You can also use the strongest sun block available in the market. If you care more about your skin, you can stop taking birth control pills and other drugs, which can lead to hyperpigmentation. But, do not stop taking any medication, which is essential for your health. Try not to opt for procedures, which can scar your skin. Prevent acne outbreaks by taking proper care of your skin.

We see that hyperpigmentation is a skin condition caused by an excess of melanin production. It is a good idea to opt for preventive measures, when it comes to dealing with hyperpigmentation. If you do have hyperpigmentation, you might have to spend a lot of money behind procedures, which might end up not working for you. Take proper care of your skin and try to avoid the conditions, which can lead to skin problems like hyperpigmentation.

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