Hyperpigmentation is characterized by a darkening of an area of skin caused by the overproduction of a pigment in the skin known as melanin. It is relatively common and usually harmless, but for cosmetic reasons, it is a nuisance to those who have it. Hyperpigmentation is the result of either of two occurrences:
(1) an abnormally high concentration of melanocytes produce melanin or
(2) when melanocytes are hyperactive.
For instance, sun exposure stimulates the production of melanin. Although it can affect anyone, this condition is more prevalent among certain ethnicities such as Asian, Mediterranean, African, or Latin. Hyperpigmentation can affect any part of the body including the face, hands, and neck. The following are examples of hyperpigmentation: lentigo/lentigenes, pregnancy-induced melasma, stain, nevus, a tan, freckles, solar lentigos (i.e., sun spots, age spots) and under-eye dark circles. Lentigo/Lentigenes - Lentigo simply means one freckle; lentigenes are multiple freckles. Solar Lentigenes - widely known as 'sun spots,' 'age spots' and 'liver spots,' solar lentigenes are freckles caused by sun exposure. Melasma - Often known as the 'pregnancy mask,' melasma is caused by hormonal changes due to pregnancy and is characterized by splotchy, pigmented areas usually on the face (except the eye area). See our page on Pregnancy Skin Care.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF HYPERPIGMENTATION?
There are various causes of hyperpigmentation, including
Overexposure to the sun
Picking at the skin
Certain medications such as antibiotics, hormone treatments, and anti-seizure drugs
Inflammation and skin injuries such as acne vulgaris