Hyperpigmentation is a common, usually harmless condition in which patches of skin become darker in color than the normal surrounding skin. This darkening occurs when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin color, forms deposits in the skin.
Types of hyperpigmentation include age spots, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Some forms of hyperpigmentation, including melasma and sun spots, are more likely to affect areas of skin that face sun exposure, including the face, arms, and legs.
Other types of hyperpigmentation form after an injury or skin inflammation, such as cuts, burns, acne, or lupus. These can occur anywhere on the body.
Having extra pigment in some areas of skin is usually harmless but can sometimes indicate another medical condition.
To prevent hyperpigmentation, or to stop it becoming more prominent:
Avoid exposure to the sun. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect the skin and stop hyperpigmentation from becoming darker. Avoid picking at the skin. To prevent hyperpigmentation from forming after an injury, avoid picking at spots, scabs, and acne.
Many people use topical treatments to treat hyperpigmentation. Topical treatments will include ingredients that lighten the skin, such as:
retinoids, such as tretinoin
Some cosmetic procedures can also lighten areas of skin to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
Cosmetic procedures for hyperpigmentation include:
intense pulsed light