What is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition in which patches of skin become darker than the surrounding area. This can be caused by an overproduction of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color.

Causes of Hyperpigmentation

There are many different causes of hyperpigmentation, including:

  • Sun exposure: Sun exposure is the most common cause of hyperpigmentation. It can lead to dark spots, freckles, and age spots.

  • Melasma: Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation that is common in pregnant women and women who take birth control pills. It causes dark patches to appear on the face, especially the forehead, cheeks, and upper lip.

  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH): PIH can occur after an injury or inflammation to the skin, such as a pimple, cut, or burn. It can also be caused by certain skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.

  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy and menopause, can also cause hyperpigmentation.

  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as Addison's disease and hemochromatosis, can also cause hyperpigmentation.

Treatments for Hyperpigmentation

There are a variety of treatments available for hyperpigmentation, depending on the cause and severity of the condition. Treatment options include:

  • Topical treatments: Topical treatments, such as hydroquinone, kojic acid, and azelaic acid, can be applied to the skin to lighten dark spots.

  • Chemical peels: Chemical peels use acids to remove the top layer of skin, revealing new, lighter skin underneath.

  • Laser therapy: Laser therapy uses light energy to target and destroy melanin-producing cells.

  • Microdermabrasion: Microdermabrasion uses a fine abrasive material to remove the top layer of skin.

  • Dermabrasion: Dermabrasion is a more invasive procedure that uses a rotating abrasive wheel to remove the top layers of skin.

How to Improve Hyperpigmentation

In addition to medical treatments, there are a number of things you can do to improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation, such as:

  • Avoid sun exposure: Sun exposure can make hyperpigmentation worse. Be sure to wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, even on cloudy days.

  • Use a gentle skin care routine: Avoid harsh soaps and scrubs, as these can irritate the skin and worsen hyperpigmentation.

  • Apply topical treatments: There are a number of topical treatments available over-the-counter and by prescription that can help to lighten dark spots.

  • See a dermatologist: If you have severe hyperpigmentation or are not happy with the results of over-the-counter treatments, see a dermatologist for advice on prescription medications or other procedures.

Naturopathic Treatments for Hyperpigmentation

Naturopathic treatments for hyperpigmentation focus on addressing the underlying cause of the condition and supporting the body's natural healing process. Some common naturopathic treatments for hyperpigmentation include:

  • Herbal supplements: Certain herbal supplements, such as licorice root and green tea, have been shown to be effective in lightening dark spots.

  • Vitamin supplements: Vitamins C and E are both antioxidants that can help to protect the skin from damage and promote healing.

  • Dietary changes: Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to improve skin health and reduce inflammation.

  • Stress management: Stress can trigger the release of hormones that can worsen hyperpigmentation. Naturopathic doctors may recommend stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture.

a woman holding a bottle
a woman holding a bottle