Uneven skin pigmentation (or hyperpigmentation as it is often known) is a common skin complaint. Dark spots – known as age spots or sun spots – or dark patches of skin frequently appear on the face, hands and other parts of the body regularly exposed to the sun. This article outlines the different types of hyperpigmentation and explains what causes them. We look at how you can help prevent hyperpigmentation in the first place, as well as steps you can take to reduce dark spots or patches once they have formed.



What is hyperpigmentation and what are the different types?


Hyperpigmentation results in flat, darkened patches of skin that can vary in size and color.

Hyperpigmentation is the term used to describe areas on uneven pigmentation in skin.

Hyperpigmentation appears as darkened patches or spots on the skin that make skin look uneven. The spots are known as age spots or sun spots and hyperpigmentation is also at the heart of skin conditions such as melasma and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

People with dark skin are normally more affected by hyperpigmentation marks than those with a lighter skin tone as skin pigmentation is stronger in dark skin

Hyperpigmentation: pigment spots such as age spots


Age/sun spots are common on the face

Pigment spots such as age spots  (which are also known as sun spots are caused by sun exposure. For this reason, they appear mainly on body parts that are frequently exposed such as the face, neck, décolleté, hands and arms. They tend to be small, darkened patches of skin.





Hyperpigmentation: melasma

Hyperpigmentation on the upper lip can occur due to hormonal changes




Melasma – a form of hormone-induced hyperpigmentation – is common during pregnancy

Also known as chloasma, melasma is a condition where larger patches of hyperpigmentation develop mainly on the face.

Although it can affect both men and women, melasma is most common in women and is thought to be triggered by changes in hormone levels. Melasma occurs in 10–15 percent of pregnant women and in 10–25 percent of women taking oral contraceptives 1 and is sometimes referred to as “the mask of pregnancy”.

The International Dermal Institute, Melasma Unmasked by Dr Claudia Aguirre quoting Kang, H. Y., & Ortonne, J. P. (2010). What should be considered in treatment of melasma. Annals of Dermatology, 22(4), 373-378.

Hyperpigmentation: Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

Acne sufferers commonly experience post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

Occurs when a skin injury or trauma heals and leaves a flat area of discolouration behind. It’s commonly found among acne sufferers and can also be caused by cosmetic procedures such as dermabrasion, laser treatment and chemical peels.

There are other factors that can cause patches of skin to become darker – such as scarring, birthmarks, solar or actinic keratoses and skin cancers – but these aren’t considered to be forms of hyperpigmentation.

Important Information

Consult your dermatologist or pharmacist if you’re concerned about any of your dark spot or if they start to bleed, itch, or change in size or color.

What causes and/or triggers hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is caused by an increase in melanin. Melanin is the natural pigment that gives our skin, hair and eyes their color. A number of factors can trigger an increase in melanin production, but the main ones are sun exposure, hormonal influences, age and skin injuries or inflammation.

Sun exposure and hyperpigmentation



Sunlight triggers melanin production and is the number one cause of hyperpigmentation

Sun exposure is the number one cause of hyperpigmentation as it’s sunlight that triggers the production of melanin in the first place. Melanin acts as your skin’s natural sunscreen by protecting you from harmful UV rays, which is why people tan in the sun. But excessive sun exposure can disrupt this process, leading to hyperpigmentation.

Once dark spots have developed, sun exposure can also exacerbate the issue by making age spots  (or sun spots) melasma and spots even darker.

Hyperpigmentation and hormones

Hormonal influences are the main cause of a particular kind of hyperpigmentation known as melasma & chloasma. It’s particularly common among women and is thought to occur when the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone stimulate the overproduction of melanin when skin is exposed to the sun.

Hyperpigmentation can also be a side effect of certain hormone treatments.

Hyperpigmentation and age

As skin ages, the number of melanin-producing cells (known as melanocytes) decreases but the remaining ones increase in size and their distribution becomes more focused. These physiological changes explain the increase of age spots in those over 40.

Hyperpigmentation, skin injuries and inflammation

As its name suggests, Post Inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs following skin injury or inflammation such as: cuts, burns, chemical exposure, acne,Psoriasis Skin is left darkened and discoloured after the wound has healed.

Hyperpigmentation, disease and medication




Certain illnesses and medications are known to cause hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation is also symptomatic of certain illnesses such as some autoimmune and gastrointestinal diseases, metabolic disorders and vitamin deficiencies.

It can also be triggered by certain medications such as chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics, antimalarials and anti-seizure drugs.

How can I prevent the formation of hyperpigmentation?


Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day can help prevent hyperpigmentation.

Sun protection is the most significant step you can take in helping to prevent hyperpigmentation in the first place. It’s important to remember that the sun’s rays affect skin even on cloudy days, so give your skin the daily protection it needs. As well as reducing hyperpigmentation.Whitenicious sells a variety of products that help erase hyperpigmentation on different body sets  


Limiting skin’s exposure to the sun will also help to reduce instances of hyperpigmentation. Try to keep out of the sun during its most intense hours and wear protective clothing including sunhats and glasses whenever possible. When skin is exposed to the sun, apply and regularly reapply a sun protection product: 

with a suitable SPF level

which has been specially formulated for your skin type and condition


How can I reduce existing pigment spots?


While prevention is best, once you have pigment spots there are steps you can take to help fade them and prevent their reappearance by using whitenicious products found on


If you are concerned by hyperpigmentation, look out for skincare products that have been formulated to address this concern and that are clinically and dermatologically proven to be effective such as Whitenicious products.


The whitenicious Dark spot remover range reduces dark spots and prevents their re-appearance



Whitenicious products are commonly used to treat hyperpigmentation – though with varying efficacy. These include: Arbutin, Azelaic Acid, Kojic Acid, other Resorcinol derivatives such as B-Resorcinol and Vitamin C and its derivatives.

A dermo-cosmetic solution is non-invasive and can be used year-round, as part of your daily skincare routine, to reduce hyperpigmentation. It can also be used to extend the results of a dermatological treatment.

Hyperpigmentation removal: dermatological treatments


Laser treatments have a similar effect to chemical peels, but the treatment can be applied more precisely and followed by Whitenicious products to help speed up the clearing of the spots.

Dermatological treatments such as chemical peels and laser therapy can help to reduce hyperpigmentation but creams are needed to clear the skin and surface.Whitenicious has all the products needed to help you start a hyperpigmentation free life.

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