Hyperpigmentation is a darkening of the skin due to an overproduction of melanin. Various injuries to the skin, acne vulgaris, sun damage, and inflammation can do the damage. It is most common in people with darker skin tones who spend a lot of time in the sun, although anyone with any type of skin tone may develop it. Examples include liver spots, sun spots, age spots, melasma (mask of pregnancy), and freckles.
There are three types of hyperpigmentation:
Light brown spots, not as dense as dermal.
Deep brown spots on the skin, some may appear ashen-grey and quite dense and solid.
A mixture of epidermal and dermal, presenting as dark brown spots.
Who is Affected
hyperpigmentation can affect most people but genetically those with darker skin tones as well as Asians and those of Asian descent, are at more risk. People who spend excessive amounts of time in the sun put themselves at more risk of developing hyperpigmentation because UV rays stimulate melanocytes into becoming hyperactive, and these are the cells that produce pigment (melanin).
How to Diagnose Hyperpigmentation
What is most important when diagnosing these spots are not the darker skin spots themselves but the reason behind why they have appeared. Generally, hyperpigmentation is strongly linked and most commonly associated with overexposure to sunlight. However, there are a number of other possibilities behind why it has presented, and a doctor will need to delve into your medical history and current medical status to make a diagnosis.
People use wood lamp to analyze the areas of your skin that have developed hyperpigmentation. A Wood Lamp emits black light that allows the doctor to see any fluorescence—a sign of hyperpigmentation.
Types of Hyperpigmentation include:
Solar lentigines: these spots are harmless and usually affect people over the age of 40. Excessive exposure to UV rays which then cause a proliferation of melanocytes and an accumulation of melanin in your skin cells.
The mask of pregnancy: this usually occurs in women (but can develop in men too). Hormonal changes can cause Melasma in your body, as well as excessive sun exposure.
Post-inflammatory : this happens when there is an injury to your skin such as a lesion, wound, insect bite, acne scar, chicken pox scar, etc. that leads to excess pigmentation.
How to Treat
Topical prescription medications such as 4% hydroquinone are often used to treat these spots. This medication bleaches your skin, though it may take several months for the affected areas to lighten.