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Hyperpigmentation: Best Topical Treatments

Hyperpigmentation is a frequent disorder in which certain parts of the skin are darker than others. "Hyper" refers to more, while "pigment" refers to color. Hyperpigmentation can manifest as brown, black, gray, red, or pink patches or blotches. The spots are also known as aging spots, sun spots, or liver spots. Spots can appear in a single location of the body or all over.

What is Hyperpigmentation?

 The word hyperpigmentation refers to patches of uneven pigmentation in the skin. Hyperpigmentation shows on the skin as darkening patches or spots that make the skin appear uneven. The spots are known as age spots or sun spots, and hyperpigmentation is at the root of many skin problems, including melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation is characterized by flat, darker areas of skin that vary in size and color.

Hyperpigmentation is a phrase that depicts darker-looking skin rather than a medical disease. It can:

  • exist in small clusters
  • huge areas to cover
  • influence the whole body

While heightened pigmentation is normally harmless, it might be a sign of a more serious medical problem. Learn about the many forms of hyperpigmentation, its causes, and how to treat them.

Hyperpigmentation is characterized by darkened regions of skin. Patches can be any size and appear anywhere on the body. Sun exposure and inflammation are the two most important risk factors for general hyperpigmentation, as both can enhance melanin production. The more time you spend in the sun, the more likely you are to have heightened skin pigmentation.

The Causes of Hyperpigmentation

Excess melanin synthesis is a common cause of hyperpigmentation. Melanin is a pigment found in skin that gives it its color. Melanocytes, which are skin cells, generate it. Several circumstances or causes can influence melanin synthesis in your body.

Skin cells produce a chemical called melanin, which gives skin its color. When skin cells are damaged or diseased, they might generate an excessive amount of melanin. Melanin might cluster, making the region look darker.

  • Hyperpigmentation can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
  • Adrenal problems, such as Addison's disease, occur when the body does not produce enough cortisol.
  • Genetics, such as a freckled family.
  • Hormone fluctuations, such as those seen during puberty or pregnancy.
  • Skin injury (for example, acne, wounds, or burns), which is frequently referred to as postinflammatory hyperpigmentation.
  • Medications that cause light sensitivity, such as oral contraceptives (birth control pills).
  • Melasma.
  • Certain vitamins, such as B12 and folic acid, are deficient.
  • Sun exposure (these spots are often called solar lentigines).
  • Thyroid problems.

The sun causes melanin formation and is the leading cause of hyperpigmentation. Sun exposure is the leading cause of hyperpigmentation since it is sunlight that causes melanin formation in the first place. Melanin functions as your skin's natural sunscreen, shielding you from damaging UV rays and causing you to tan in the sun. Excessive sun exposure, on the other hand, might interrupt this process, resulting in hyperpigmentation.

Hormonal factors are the primary cause of melasma or chloasma, two types of hyperpigmentation. It is more frequent in women and is considered to arise when the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone induce melanin overproduction when skin is exposed to sunlight.

As skin ages, the number of melanin-producing cells (known as melanocytes) diminishes, but the remaining ones grow in size and become more concentrated. These physiological changes account for the development in age spots in people over the age of 40.

Certain disorders and drugs have been linked to hyperpigmentation. Certain conditions, including various autoimmune and gastrointestinal ailments, metabolic abnormalities, and vitamin deficiencies, can also cause hyperpigmentation.

Types of Hyperpigmentation 

Age Spots

What are Age Spots?

Age spots are tiny, flat regions of dark skin on the skin. They vary in size and are most commonly found on sun-exposed regions such as the face, hands, shoulders, and arms. Sunspots, liver spots, and solar lentigines are all names for age spots.

Age spots are more frequent in persons over the age of 50, but they can appear in younger people who spend time in the sun.

Age spots might resemble malignant tumors. True age spots do not require treatment, but they are an indication of excessive sun exposure and your skin's effort to protect itself from more sun damage. They might be brightened or eliminated for aesthetic purposes.


Pigment cells that are hyperactive generate age spots. UV radiation accelerates the formation of melanin, a natural pigment that gives skin its color. Age spots form on sun-exposed skin after years of exposure when melanin clumps or is created in high quantities.

Commercial tanning lights and beds can also produce age spots.

Dark Spots

What are Dark Spots

Dark patches are frequent as people age. They are frequently the result of previous sun exposure. However, they can also be caused by specific skin disorders, drugs, or medical issues.

Dark patches are typically not harmful. Despite this, some people opt to have them removed for aesthetic reasons. Skin lightening lotions and cosmetic surgeries are among the treatment possibilities.

Hyperpigmentation is more common in middle age. That is when the skin begins to reveal the effects of sun exposure. This is especially true if you did not apply sunscreen and other protective measures.


Dark spots are caused by an excess or accumulation of melanin, a skin pigment that darkens the skin. They can also be caused by free radical damage. The sun and tanning beds are the leading causes of black patches

Treatment for Hyperpigmentation 

Medical techniques can be used by healthcare practitioners and estheticians to treat black spots on any portion of the body. They are frequently used in conjunction with topical therapies. Some, however, may not be suitable for those with sensitive skin. Among the options are:


This procedure employs concentrated light radiation to remove skin layer by layer, removing dark areas. Risks include bruising, swelling, redness, tightness, scarring, infection, and changes in skin texture.

Many unpleasant brown and red spots on your skin, such as liver spots, age spots, sun spots, burst capillaries, birthmarks, and angiomas, can be safely and successfully removed using high-energy pulse lasers (red spots). You might have a more even skin tone when the lasers have finished their work.

When red spots are removed, the skin is frequently reddish or bruised for 7 to 10 days following the procedure and may hurt like a sunburn for a few hours. The removal of dark spots causes an abrasion and momentarily reddens the skin. You can continue your usual activities immediately following each treatment, however you should keep the treated region out of the sun for at least 6 weeks, or as long as your doctor prescribes. When the region has healed, use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more whenever it is exposed to the sun.

Hypopigmentation (lightening of the treated skin) or hyperpigmentation are possible side effects (darkening of the treated skin). New spots will not be prevented by laser therapy.


Microdermabrasion comes in two varieties. Both physically eliminate cells from the skin's surface. A machine sprays tiny crystals through a wand that brushes against the skin and scrapes away cells during crystal microdermabrasion. In the case of diamond-tipped microdermabrasion, the abrasive end of a wand is utilized instead. Although the skin may be pink for a short time thereafter, these treatments are considered low-risk.

Topical Treatment

Prescription bleaching treatments progressively reduce the visibility of dark areas. Normally, this takes several months.


The active component in skin lightening creams prescribed by a doctor. It works by lowering the formation of melanin. Hydroquinone is used to lighten dark areas of skin produced by pregnancy, birth control pills, hormone therapy, or skin damage (also known as hyperpigmentation, melasma, "liver spots," "age spots," and freckles). This medication works by preventing the discoloration process in the skin.

Though it may have adverse effects, there is no conclusive clinical data to settle the controversy over whether or not hydroquinone is dangerous to people. Still, as with other chemical compounds, there is some ambiguity.


Curcumin, a bioactive component, is found in turmeric. Curcumin is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. Turmeric gives radiance and shine to the skin. With consistent usage, it cures hyperpigmentation. Turmeric also slows the aging process and, best of all, it fights acne-causing germs. Turmeric masks may also be used to brighten and lighten the skin tone. Turmeric is an excellent treatment for dark spots and patches. It can act quickly to remove acne scars and dark spots when combined with other powerful skin lightening agents. Interestingly, tetrahydrocurcumin, a turmeric extract, is now a key component in black spot removal treatments.

  • Turmeric has "anti-inflammatory properties and protection from environmental harm," according to Dr. Sethi, and because inflammation is the core cause of many skin disorders, reducing it can help reduce acne, rashes, and redness.
  • Soothes skin rashes: "Turmeric has also been used to cure scars, skin rashes, burns, and other painful skin disorders," adds Dr. Sethi, in addition to combating skin ailments including dermatitis and psoriasis.
  • Lightens dark spots: While not a quick treatment, "topical turmeric helps with discolouration or hyperpigmentation if applied consistently," according to Dr. Patel.
  • Brightens skin: One of turmeric's most well-known advantages is its capacity to lighten skin. "Turmeric has been used to minimize excess melanin synthesis, which helps brighten skin tone," says one expert.


According to clinical research, tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane effectively lowers the appearance of hyperpigmentation by blocking melanin formation. Genetics, environmental variables, nutrition, and medicine all have an impact on melanin formation (melanogenesis). The rate-limiting phase in melanogenesis is the conversion of L-tyrosine to melanin by the action of tyrosinase, which happens in the basal layer of the epidermis by specialized cells called melanocytes.

Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane is a turmeric derivative that is utilized as a skin-whitening component in cosmetics and personal care products, particularly anti-aging formulae. According to Nu-Skin, a business that employs Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane in their whitening solutions, this substance "limits the manufacture of skin discoloration by blocking tyrosinase, an enzyme that catalyzes the development of melanin."

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is produced in a kind of yeast prevalent on normal skin and provides a lot of advantages for a variety of skin disorders. Many over-the-counter skincare and cosmetics products contain azelaic acid formulations with concentrations of 10% or less. Over-the-counter azelaic acid treatments may be useful for treating blackheads or just brightening the skin.

The ensuing lightening effects of topical azelaic acid therapies target just aberrant melanocytes, allowing it to brighten dark patches while leaving adjacent skin alone. A 24-week trial of a 20% concentration medication revealed that it significantly decreased the appearance of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation while causing very minor adverse effects (Davis).

One of the advantages of azelaic acid topical therapies is that they come in a variety of forms, including as gels, creams, and foams. Azelaic acid can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments to treat hyperpigmentation or melasma. For speedier outcomes, glycolic acid or retinoids are sometimes combined with azelaic acid.

Dark patches are prevalent as people age. They are frequently the result of previous sun exposure. However, they can also be caused by specific skin disorders, drugs, or medical issues. Dark spots can often be diagnosed by your healthcare professional or dermatologist simply by glancing at them. However, in rare circumstances, a skin biopsy may be performed to ensure accuracy.

Dark patches are typically not harmful. Despite this, some people opt to have them removed for aesthetic reasons. Skin lightening lotions and cosmetic surgeries are among the treatment possibilities. You might not be able to completely avoid black patches. However, you may lower your risk by applying sunscreen, remaining covered when in the sun, and avoiding the sun during peak hours.