Hyperpigmentation – Dark Spots, Causes & The Best Proven Treatments

The Skin

The skin is the largest organ of the body. It accounts for about 15% of your adult body weight. It is important to keep the skin healthy since it’s the first thing we may notice about a person. Hyperpigmentation of the skin can cause insecurities and low esteem but before we dive in on that topic, it is important to know the structure and function of the skin in order to understand what is hyperpigmentation, its effects and causes. Let’s first deal with the importance of the skin. The skin performs many functions:

  • It protects; the skin acts as a protective barrier against physical injury, excessive loss of moisture as well as harmful effects of UV radiation etc.
  • Prevents loss of moisture.
  • Thermoregulation; it regulates temperature for us. When it is warm, our vessels dilate. We see this visibly when our face reddens, and then we sweat. In the cold, our blood vessels constrict therefore preventing heat from escaping.
  • It is responsible for sensation; it is our sense of touch.

Layers Of The Skin

The skin is composed of three layers: –

  1. Epidermis
  2. Dermis
  3. Subcutaneous tissue

The Epidermis

The epidermis is composed of primarily two types of cells, keratinocytes and dendritic cells. Melanocytes are dendritic pigment synthesizing cells. Melanocytes are responsible for the production of the pigment melanin which is transfer to keratinocytes.

What Is Melanin?

Melanin is a black pigment synthesized nonenzymatically and enzymatically from dopamine I- DOPA and I-tyrosine. Melanin containing cells include: –

  • Catecholaminergic cells in the brain
  • Melanocytes of the hair and skin
  • Pigment cells in parts of your inner ear and iris
  • Choroid of the eye

Melanocytes are located in different areas of your body, these include the hair, the innermost parts of your skin, irises and pupils, the substantia nigra and locus coeruleus (areas of your brain), the medulla and zona reticularis (areas of your adrenal gland) and the Syria vascularis (part of your inner ear). Hyperpigmentation is caused by increased melanin.

What Causes This Increased Melanin?

  • Sun exposure
  • Skin inflammation
  • Hormonal influences; Melasma
  • Reactions to drug use
  • Medical conditions
Sun Exposure

One of the major causes of hyperpigmentation is sun exposure. This usually occurs on areas of the skin which are frequently exposed to the sun (face, neck, hands). Long-term sun exposure causes the body to produce more melanin which protects the skin from prolonged exposure to the sun therefore causing dark spots.

Skin Inflammation

This occurs when your skin reacts to damages or any irritation. The skin makes more melanin, and therefore causes dark brown, red, or even blue spots and patches around the skin.

Hormonal Influences; Melasma

Melasma is caused by hormonal changes in the body. Pregnant women are much more likely to have this problem and it usually targets the face. During pregnancy, endogenous hormones stimulate the melanocytes causing them to produce more melanin. Women who take birth control pills may experience this as well because they undergo similar hormonal changes as in pregnancy.

Reactions to Drug Use
drugs, medicine, Hyperpigmentation, medications-1728381.jpg

There are some drugs that may contribute to hyperpigmentation. For example, some chemotherapy drugs when taken can lead to hyperpigmentation.

Medical Conditions

An example of such a medical condition that may cause hyperpigmentation in some people is Addison’s disease (rare endocrine disease).

Solutions to Hyperpigmentation

Lightening creams or gels work really well with flat spots as well as melasma. They are effective in most skin types. Here a few: –



I haven’t used this personally but I have heard about it. It is formulated without hydroquinone and brightens skin as well as reduces the appearance of hyperpigmentation. You can purchase this item on Amazon.

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector + Interrupter


For all skin types. It is great for discoloration and acne scars and it also interrupts future dark spots. This can also be purchased on Amazon.

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinal Cream

This diminishes the appearance of fine lines, deep wrinkles, and sun damage. In the ingredients, it has things for your skin such as kale, cherries, jojoba oil and much more. Could be purchased on Amazon.

Admire My Skin Dark Spot Corrector Remover

I personally use this and love it because it works. The acid gently fades dark spots to reveal brighter skin. Prolonged use of hydroquinone can cause darkening. Here is a link to check it out on Amazon.

Symba Skin Lite ‘N’ Smooth Cream

I use this one as well. It tones, brightens, and lightens uneven skin. Again, it contains hydroquinone so do not use for prolonged periods. You may find this in your local drug stores or on eBay.

Let’s face it, people make judgments about us firstly based on what they see (our appearance). So, therefore, we should take care of our skin.

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