Photo of a girl with hyperpigmentation

A Basic Guide to Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation refers to darkened patches or spots on the skin. It occurs when the skin produces more melanin (melanin is the pigment that gives the skin its colour). This is a basic guide to hyperpigmentation that includes the types, causes, and available treatments.

Melanin is produced by melanocytes at the lower layer of the epidermis and at the very top of the dermis. These melanocytes produce granules of pigments called melanosomes (containing melanin).

Melanin is controlled by an enzyme known as tyrosinase. Tyrosinase is the responsible for enzymatic browning ehich is the basically the rate and amount of melanin pigment production. It’s a common skin condition that affects people of all ages and races. It is mostly unharmful, non-threatening and easily diagnosed.

Types of Hyperpigmentation

All hyperpigmentation are not the same. The common types of hyperpigmentation are;

  • Melasma: Also known as Chloasma or the mask of pregnancy, melasma is a skin pigmentation disorder that causes dark or brown patches to appear on the skin usually on the face, cheeks, upper lips, bridge of the nose and neck. Women are more likely to get melasma than men. And because melasma understands the concept of intersectionality more than most, it targets darker skinned folks the most. Pregnant women are also more likely to get melasma. Change in hormones due to pregnancy, taking birth control pills, using certain skin care products and exposure to sun rays are also known triggers of melasma. Melasma is usually symmetrical with matching marks on both sides off the face an equal opportunity hater. It exacerbates with sun exposure and is harder to treat than regular hyperpigmentation
  • Sun Spots: Also known as age spots, liver spots or lentigines, age spots are varying shades of brown spots that appear on the areas of skin exposed to the sun. They occur on arms, face, back, feet. They are harmless and start appearing from the age of 40 but some people may get them earlier or even never. They affect lighter skinned people than their darker skinned mates.
  • Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation: PIH occurs as a result of inflammation to the skin. They are spots and darkened patches of skin that can be found after an inflammatory skin condition such as eczema, acne, burns etc. It can happen to anyone but it’s more common in darker skinned individuals.
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Treatment for Hyperpigmentation 

While hyperpigmentation can generally be prevented by religious use of sunscreen, it can be treated by using tyrosinase inhibitors such as

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