Hyperpigmentation occurs when the pigment producing cells of the skin, called melanocytes, begin to produce too much pigment. This leads to the development of light to dark brown to grey spots or patches on the skin surface. Hyperpigmentation can appear anywhere on the skin. Common causes include inflammation and/or trauma on the skin, medications, contact with certain cosmetic or plants and melasma. Pigmentation that follows trauma to the skin, such as a cut, burn, abrasion or surgical incision, or inflammation in the skin, such as after a rash, acne or severe skin dryness, is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and is located in a pattern similar to the original event. Medications that can cause hyperpigmentation may cause more widespread hyperpigmentation. Your ASDS physician will help to diagnosis your underlying cause of hyperpigmentation and customize your treatment plan to fit your individual needs.
Most cases of hyperpigmentation can be improved over time after the underlying cause has been removed and managed. As sun exposure worsens hyperpigmentation it is important to protect the skin with sunscreen on a daily basis. Treatment often begins with a skin care regimen composed of a daily sunscreen, moisturizers, and skin care brighteners. Some of the more common skin brighteners include hydroquinone, vitamin C, azelaic acid, tretinoin and kojic acid.
For patients who don’t see improvement of their hyperpigmentation with a skin care regimen alone, procedures may be added. These include superficial chemical peels, microdermabrasion, intense pulsed light and/or lasers. Lasers should be used with care in patients with darker skin tones by an experienced laser surgeon.