Hyperpigmentation Uncovered: From Melasma to Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation, a common skin condition characterised by darkened patches of skin, can be challenging to deal with. However, understanding what hyperpigmentation is and the conditions that cause it can help guide effective treatment strategies.

Understanding Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation occurs when melanin, the pigment that gives skin its colour, is overproduced in certain skin cells, leading to the appearance of dark spots or patches. It's a generally harmless condition but can sometimes indicate an underlying medical issue or be a side effect of certain medications.

Types of Hyperpigmentation: Melasma and Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Melasma, also known as chloasma or "the mask of pregnancy," is a common type of hyperpigmentation. It's characterised by dark, discoloured patches on the skin, typically on the face. Melasma is more common in women, particularly during pregnancy or in those taking contraceptive pills, due to hormonal influences.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), on the other hand, results from injury or inflammation to the skin. Conditions like acne, lupus, or psoriasis, and injuries from burns or cuts, can trigger PIH. It appears as flat spots of discoloration on the skin, often appearing after the original skin condition has healed.

Treating Hyperpigmentation

Treatment for hyperpigmentation aims to lighten the darkened areas of skin, often requiring a multipronged approach. Topical treatments containing ingredients like hydroquinone, retinoids, corticosteroids, or vitamin C can help fade hyperpigmentation.

In-office procedures such as chemical peels, laser therapy, microdermabrasion, or intense pulsed light therapy can also be effective. Importantly, sun protection is crucial as UV exposure can worsen hyperpigmentation.

Prevention Strategies

Preventing hyperpigmentation often involves sun protection and skincare management. Regular use of broad-spectrum sunscreen, protective clothing, and minimising sun exposure can help reduce the likelihood of developing hyperpigmentation. Careful management of skin conditions that can lead to PIH is also crucial.


Hyperpigmentation can be a daunting skin issue to address, but a more targeted and effective treatment is possible with a better understanding of the condition. If over-the-counter treatments are not effective or if hyperpigmentation causes distress, seek help from a dermatologist for a customised treatment plan. It's essential to remember that patience is key – it can take several months to see significant improvements in hyperpigmentation.

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