Human skin contains melanocyte cells that produce melanin, a pigment found in the skin, hair, and eyes, through a process called melanogenesis. Too much melanin leads to hyperpigmented skin, common examples of which include freckles and age spots. Hyperpigmentation can result from sun exposure, trauma to the skin, a medical condition, or as a side effect of certain drugs. While hyperpigmentation is not a serious medical condition, you may want to seek treatment for cosmetic reasons.
Know the different types of hyperpigmentation. Getting familiar with the types of hyperpigmentation will help you determine the right course of treatment and give you ideas for lifestyle changes you can make to prevent further discoloration from occurring. Understand that hyperpigmentation does not only occur on your face. Here are the four types of hyperpigmentation:
Discuss your condition with a dermatologist. See a dermatologist to find out what type of hyperpigmentation is affecting your skin. After asking you questions about your lifestyle and medical history, your skin will be examined using a magnifying lamp. Expect your dermatologist to ask the following questions to help determine what type of hyperpigmentation you have:
Get a prescription for a topical application. Topical applications containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and retinoids, which exfoliate and rejuvenate the skin, are helpful in treating hyperpigmentation of all types. The following types of topical applications are available:
Consider getting a nonablative professional procedure. If topical treatments don’t work, your dermatologist might recommend getting a procedure done to target your hyperpigmentation. Available procedures include the following:
Treat hyperpigmentation using over-the-counter medications. If you want to treat hyperpigmentation without getting a prescription, look for these over-the-counter options:
Try a home remedy. Apply any of the following topically to help to lighten dark areas of the skin:
Limit your exposure to UV rays. Exposure to UV rays is one of the most common causes of hyperpigmentation. While limiting exposure will do nothing to affect hyperpigmentation you already have it can help prevent further discoloration.
Consider your medications. In many cases you won’t be able to stop taking a medication just because it causes hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is a common side effect of birth control and other medication containing hormones. If switching to a new medication or ceasing to take it is an option, it’s something to consider. Always talk to your physician before stopping any prescribed medication.
Be wary of professional skin treatments. Hyperpigmentation can result from trauma to the skin, which can be caused by plastic surgery and other professional skin treatments. Be sure to do thorough research before opting to get plastic surgery. Make sure your doctor or practitioner is highly experienced.
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Written by: WikiHow, co-authored by Marsha Durkin, RN
Marsha Durkin is a Registered Nurse in Wisconsin. She received her Associates Degree in Nursing from Olney Central College in 1987.