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Reviewed by
Dr Joseph Santos
Medical Director
Last reviewed


Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition where patches of skin become darker in color than the surrounding skin. This occurs when there is an overproduction of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color.


There are several types of hyperpigmentation, including:

Age spots or liver spots: These are flat, brown spots that typically appear on the face, hands, and arms as a result of sun damage.

Melasma: Melasma is a condition where gray or brown patches of pigmentation develop on the face, particularly on the cheeks, forehead, and upper lip. It's more common in women and can be caused by hormonal changes, such as pregnancy or the use of birth control pills.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation: This occurs when areas of the skin become darker after an injury or inflammation, such as a pimple, rash, or wound.

Freckles: Freckles are small, flat spots that can be red, tan, yellow, or light brown in color. They are caused by an overproduction of melanin in response to sun exposure.


There are many different causes of hyperpigmentation, including:

Sun exposure: Overexposure to the sun's UV rays is a common cause of hyperpigmentation. When the skin is exposed to the sun, it produces more melanin as a natural defense mechanism, which can result in the development of age spots, freckles, and other forms of hyperpigmentation.

Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes can also cause hyperpigmentation. For example, pregnant women may develop a condition called melasma, which results in dark patches on the skin, particularly on the face. Hormonal changes associated with birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can also lead to hyperpigmentation.

Inflammation: Inflammation in the skin can also cause hyperpigmentation. Conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis can all cause inflammation, which can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Injuries to the skin: Any injury to the skin, such as a cut, scrape, or burn, can cause hyperpigmentation in the affected area.

Genetics: Some people are more prone to developing hyperpigmentation due to genetic factors.

Medications: Certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs and some antibiotics, can cause hyperpigmentation as a side effect.


While it's true that age spots, freckles, and hyperpigmentation can be common skin concerns, it's important to note that not all skin spots are the same and some may require medical attention.

It's always a good idea to consult with a doctor or dermatologist to determine the cause and appropriate treatment for any spots or discoloration on your skin. They can examine your skin and identify any potentially dangerous spots that require further evaluation or treatment.

If your doctor determines that your spots or discoloration are benign, they may recommend a personalized skincare regimen that includes over-the-counter or prescription topical treatments, as well as lifestyle changes such as avoiding sun exposure and using sunscreen. It's important to follow their guidance and adjust your treatment over time as needed to achieve the best results.

It's also important to note that some forms of hyperpigmentation, such as melasma, can be stubborn and difficult to treat.

Some online dermatology services like Rosemary Health offer virtual consultations with a doctor. Patients can upload detailed photos for the doctor and fill out a health questionnaire that will include medical history and skin goals. The doctor can examine photos or videos of the affected areas and also video call the patient to make a diagnosis online.

During an online consultation, the doctor may ask you questions about your medical history. They may also ask for photos or videos of the affected areas, which can help them to identify the type and severity of the acne lesions present. All your answers that you discuss will stay completely confidential.

In some cases, an in-person examination may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis and determine the most effective treatment plan. In that case, the online doctor will refer you to the right healthcare professional for you.

To understand how Rosemary Health works check out How it works.


Hyperpigmentation can be a challenging condition to treat. A dermatologist  and or doctor can recommend an appropriate skincare regime and provide guidance on the best treatment options for their individual needs. The skin care regime can include the following:

Topical skin lightening agents: Topical agents such as hydroquinone, kojic acid, azelaic acid, vitamin C, and licorice extract can help to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation by slowing down the production of melanin in the skin.

Retinoids: Retinoids (prescription strength vitamin A), can also be used to treat hyperpigmentation by accelerating cell turnover and promoting the growth of new, healthy skin cells.

Chemical peels: Chemical peels involve the use of a chemical solution that is applied to the skin to remove the outer layers of damaged skin. This can help to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation by promoting the growth of new, healthy skin cells.

Microdermabrasion: Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive procedure that uses a handheld device to exfoliate the outer layer of the skin. This can help to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation by removing damaged skin cells and promoting the growth of new, healthy skin cells.

Laser therapy: Laser therapy can be used to treat hyperpigmentation by targeting and breaking up the excess melanin in the skin. This can help to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and promote the growth of new, healthy skin cells.

Sun protection: Sun exposure can worsen hyperpigmentation, so it's important to protect your skin from the sun by wearing protective clothing and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Is hyperpigmentation a serious medical condition?

Hyperpigmentation is typically not a serious medical condition, but it can be a cosmetic concern. In some cases, it can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, so it's important to consult with a doctor or dermatologist if you are experiencing hyperpigmentation.

Can hyperpigmentation be prevented?

Hyperpigmentation can be prevented to some extent by protecting your skin from sun exposure, using gentle skincare products, and avoiding picking at your skin. However, some cases of hyperpigmentation are caused by factors such as genetics or hormonal changes, which cannot be prevented.

How long does it take to see results from treatment?

The length of time it takes to see results from treatment for hyperpigmentation varies depending on the type and severity of the condition, as well as the specific treatment being used. Some treatments, such as topical creams, may take several weeks to several months to see significant results.

Are there any home remedies for treating hyperpigmentation?

There are many home remedies that may help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation, such as using lemon juice, aloe vera, or apple cider vinegar. However, it's important to note that the effectiveness of these remedies can vary, and they may not be suitable for all skin types. It's always best to consult with a doctor or dermatologist before trying any home remedies for hyperpigmentation.

Can hyperpigmentation be permanent?

In some cases, hyperpigmentation can be permanent, especially if it is caused by underlying medical conditions or long-term sun damage. However, there are many treatments available that can help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and improve the overall health of your skin.

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