What is Hyperpigmentation?

What is Hyperpigmentation?


Hyperpigmentation is characterized by overproduction of a naturally existing pigment in our body called Melanin. Melanin is produced by cells called melanocytes which are located in the basal (deeper) layer of epidermis at the junction of dermis and epidermis.


Hyperpigmentation is a response to skin injury caused by many factors like sun’s UV rays, hormonal imbalance, genetics, inflammation or harsh skin treatments. Whenever there is a risk of injury to skin cells, the tyrosinase enzyme produces melanin which forms an umbrella of pigment around the skin cells to protect them from external or internal damage leading to hyperpigmentation. Those hyperpigmented cells absorb all the sun rays and protect the deeper skin cells from damage such as sunspots and premature aging.


Darker skin types have a higher incidence of pigmentation because their skin naturally contains more melanin.

We divide the skin into 6 types based on genetics:

  • Type 1 & 2: These are Scottish and Irish. Their melanocytes are so inactive that they can’t even tan. When they go out in the sun they burn. Rare for these skin types to have melasma.
  • Type 3: These are European/Mediterranean/Italian. There is a very slight chance of tanning on long exposure to the sun but they recover soon.
  • Type 4: These are Asian/Hispanic/Semitic. This skin type is the most sensitive to develop melasma. Their melanocytes become sensitive not only on sun exposure but also due to hormonal imbalance or inflammation.
  • Type 5: These are Brown Africans. They tan easily.
  • Type 6: These are Ethiopians, Sudanese. Their melanocytes work overtime to produce extra melanin providing the maximum protection to deeper layers of skin. Even though this skin type will look darkest than other skin types but they will have the healthiest and younger looking beautiful skin for a long time.


There are 3 main types:

  1. Photo-damage: This is caused by long term exposure to sun rays or tanning beds. It appears as irregular pigmentation like freckles, age spots, uneven skin tones.
  2. Melasma:  It is also known as the “Pregnancy Mask” (pigmentation during pregnancy).This type of pigmentation appears as symmetrical brown patches on sun-exposed areas of skin like forehead, cheeks, chin, upper lip and bridge of nose. Main triggers can be UV rays, genetics, hormonal imbalance or medications like birth control pills.
  3. PIH (Post-Inflammatory hyperpigmentation):  This type of pigmentation appears as brown patches on skin due to trauma or inflammation. Main triggers can be acne, eczema or psoriasis. Any harsh skin treatment like microdermabrasion at a very high setting, laser resurfacing treatments, harsh chemical peels. You can prevent this type of pigmentation by following pre and post-treatment instructions given by your skin care specialist.



Pigmentation can be stable or unstable type. For the stable type, the cause of pigmentation is fixed and can be treated. For unstable type, the cause is not fixed such as hormonal imbalance which can keep causing bounce back pigmentation so its important to have a good maintenance treatment protocol.

There are 3 main approaches to treating pigmentation:

  1. The first and far most important strategy is protection. Use a sunscreen to protect your skin from photo-damage.
  2. Exfoliate the existing pigmentation. This can be done by home care exfoliation and in clinic treatments like laser, LED green light treatment, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels
  3. Prevent further pigmentation by using different serums in your daily skincare regimens like retinol, hydroquinone, Vitamin C and serums containing kojic acid and arbutin which will inhibit the enzyme tyrosinase which is responsible for melanin production.

Let our skin care specialist examine your skin and help determine the cause of your pigmentation so we can choose the right treatment plan and home care regimen for you. A good thorough consultation is a key to successful results. 

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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