Types of Skin Pigmentation: Causes & Treatment

Types of pigmentation

Skin pigmentation is a condition characterised by the darkening of a person's skin colour. It is caused by increased melanin pigmentation or the overproduction of melanin on the epidermis. Different factors, including exposure to sunlight, ageing and hormonal changes, can trigger hyperpigmentation. Identifying the different types of pigmentation on your face and skin is very important for getting rid of the same. In this blog, we will look more closely at types of pigmentation disorders, causes of pigmentation and how to get rid of pigmentation

What causes pigmentation on skin?

Causes of pigmentation

Skin with too much melanin is called hyperpigmented. Skin with too little melanin is called hypopigmented. Skin with no melanin is called depigmented. There can be several causes of skin pigmentation

Causes of hyperpigmentation

  • Skin inflammation 

  • Use of certain drugs, including minocycline, certain cancer chemotherapies, and use of birth control pills

  • Hormone system diseases like Addison's disease 

  • Hemochromatosis (iron overload)

  • Sun exposure

  • Pregnancy (melasma, or mask of pregnancy)

  • Certain birthmarks

Causes of hypopigmentation

  • Skin inflammation

  • Certain fungal infections (such as tinea versicolor)

  • Pityriasis alba

  • Vitiligo

  • Certain medicines

  • A skin condition called idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis in sun-exposed areas such as the arms

  • Certain birthmarks

In case skin discolouration causes significant concern or there is persistent darkening or lightening it is best to consult a dermatologist who will correctly diagnose your condition and recommend creams, ointments, surgery, or phytotherapy based on your skin concern. At Clinikally, we provide online video consultation with best dermatologists in India who will give you a personalised treatment plan based on your specific skin concern. 

Most common types of pigmentation disorders

Types of skin pigmentation

There are several types of skin pigmentation, the most common ones are

  1. Age spots

  2. Melasma 

  3. Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation

Type

Symptoms 

Where on body

Age spots 

Brown, tan, or black spots that appear on the skin with sun overexposure

Face or hands or on sun exposed areas of the body

Melasma

Large patches of darkened skin

Generally on the forehead, face, and stomach

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation 

Spots or patches of darkened skin that appear after an inflammatory skin condition, such as acne or eczema

Anywhere on the body

 

Hyperpigmentation

Pigmentation on face

 

Normal skin contains cells called melanocytes. These cells are responsible for producing melanin. Melanin is what gives skin its colour. Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition that causes patches of darkened skin. It occurs when melanin, the pigment that gives skin its colour, accumulates in one area and results in a darker-than-normal skin patch.

Causes of hyperpigmentation

Certain medications can cause hyperpigmentation. Change in hormonal levels due to pregnancy can also affect melanin production in some women, causing hyperpigmentation. Other factors can include increased sun exposure, hemochromatosis, and skin inflammation like acne or eczema. 

How to treat hyperpigmentation

Several treatments can help treat hyperpigmentation, including topical treatments, including creams, moisturisers and sunscreens and cosmetic procedures like laser therapy or chemical peels. 

Natural remedies like aloe vera, licorice, and green tea extracts are also known to reduce the appearance of pigmentation on the skin.

Melasma

Hyperpigmentation

Melasma, also called the mask of pregnancy, is a common skin pigmentation disorder that results in skin discolouration. It can be found on the cheeks, upper lip and forehead.

Melasma is caused by sun exposure or hormonal changes that cause an increase in melanin production by melanocytes. Melanin is the pigment that gives your skin its colour. If you have increased levels of melanin, your skin will appear darker than usual.

Causes of melasma

Melasma is caused by increased melanin (pigment) in your skin cells. It can occur due to pregnancy, hormonal changes, and sun exposure. When this happens, the result is brown or grey patches on your face. The condition often appears on the forehead, cheeks and nose, but it can also affect other body parts. This disorder is more common among women than men, especially during pregnancy or after giving birth. Dark-skinned individuals are also more susceptible to melasma than lighter-skinned people.

 How to treat melasma

Melasma is usually treated with a combination of creams and lotions that contain prescription-strength hydroquinone or corticosteroids. These medications slow down melanin production in your body, so your skin will gradually lighten up over time. These products need to be monitored closely by your doctor since they have side effects such as dryness, peeling and irritation.

Expert tips to prevent pigmentation

Cream for pigmentation

Using topical retinoids can help reduce and lighten darkened areas on the skin. Dermatologists recommend using sunscreen daily if you're out in the sun. While selecting your sunscreen, always look for at least an SPF of 30 to 50. Many topical creams and serums can help with dark spots, freckles and all types of hyperpigmentation. When choosing best pigmentation cream, look for these ingredients that can lighten skin:

  • Azelaic acid

  • Cysteamine cream

  • Vitamin C

  • Hydroquinone

  • Corticosteroids

  • Kojic acid

  • Retinoids

  • Arbutin

  • Glycolic acid peels

  • Mequinol

  • Niacinamide

  • N-acetyl glucosamine

Get rid of pigmentation on skin!

How to get rid of pigmentation

Pigmentation and melasma is a common skin concern and is usually harmless; however, if you have persistent and significant skin discolouration, it is best to get it checked with a dermatologist. They will diagnose the cause of your hyperpigmentation and recommend the best treatment method and anti-pigmentation cream & serums for your skin. No matter which treatment you choose it is crucial to protect the skin from further sun damage and hyperpigmentation. It may take some time to see results once you start your treatment; and patience  and care is needed in getting rid of skin pigmentation.


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No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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