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27 January 2022

Hyperpigmentation Treatment: 6 Ways To Remove It According to Doctors

Sun spots, acne scars, uneven skin tone, darker patches of blotchy skin, it’s frustrating to have these appear on your body, and you don’t even know how it came about. It can be super frustrating and maybe even demoralising.

But what can you do? It starts with understanding skin discoloration so you know how to manage and treat hyperpigmentation.

What is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation basically means spots or patches of skin that’s darker than its surrounding skin. It occurs when the skin produces excess melanin. This is a common skin condition that is usually harmless. In some cases, it can be easily managed, but some require specific cosmetic treatments.

Causes of hyperpigmentation

There are many causes for these spots of darker skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), excessive pigment production is most commonly caused by:


Otherwise known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). It’s normally derived from trauma — such as acne scars, eczema wounds, bug bites, hair removal, cuts, scrapes, even scratching or friction from vigorous rubbing. PIH can even be caused by a reaction to aesthetic treatments like laser treatment or harsh chemicals and topical treatments like hydroquinone. The inflammation can send pigment-producing cells into overdrive, leaving behind a dark spot after the injury has healed.

Sun Exposure

The sun’s UV rays have a huge impact on our skin whether we feel it or not. And our cells produce melanin as a way to defend our skin from damage. when sun exposure is frequent or in excess, the overproduction of melanin results in dark spots or dark marks appearing. Although these darker skin tones are not necessarily life-threatening, it’s still sun damage nonetheless.

Tiny brown circles start growing in size and the dark spots get increasingly difficult to treat with prolonged sun damage. Even if you don’t see them now, it’s common that they develop as you get older (we call that age spots).


Sometimes termed “the mask of pregnancy.” Melasma is characterized by sizeable brown patches that can commonly form in women during pregnancy. This type of hyperpigmentation most often occurs in women, but can also occur in men. It is triggered by a combination of sun exposure, genetics, and hormonal changes. Other times when melasma can occur is after the use of oral contraceptives.

Medication or Medical Conditions

Hyperpigmentation can also be due to Addison’s disease, an adrenal gland disorder that can increase melanin production, and hyperthyroidism. Certain drugs, including chemotherapy drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics, some antipsychotic medicines and more, could cause skin hyperpigmentation too.

How To Prevent Hyperpigmentation

Just to emphasise again, most hyperpigmentation is harmless but some people still wish to get rid of it for aesthetic purposes. There are a range of possible clinical, topical and oral treatment methods that people can try.

We’re just going to put this out there. PLEASE AVOID HOME REMEDIES.


Because you’ll be using hearsay evidence to treat yourself, even worse if you attempt it on your face. Combining ingredients, even organic ingredients might have repercussions. Chemical reactions that are unseen to the naked eye can damage your skin further. This would be counterintuitive because what was once meant to lighten dark spots end up causing even more harm.

Avoid exposure to the sun

If possible, avoid walking under the intense afternoon sun for long periods. The next best thing would be to cover yourself with fabric. But since that’s not always possible, so your next best bet is using a broad spectrum sunscreen.

Use broad-spectrum sunscreen

It is prudent to apply sunscreen daily with at least SPF of 50 and with PA++++ rating to protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays. In recent years, Blue Light has been scientifically proven to be more damaging than UV rays and is the major culprit for hyperpigmentation, premature skin ageing like wrinkles and sagging. It’s important to choose a sun protection cream that protects you from the harmful effects of Blue Lights too.

Avoid picking at the skin

To prevent brown spots and unwanted pigmentation from forming after an injury, avoid picking at spots, scabs, and pimples.

Hyperpigmentation Treatments You Can Try

Let’s start with the simplest way to treat dark spots and work our way to clinical treatments for those who’re ready for professional help.

1. Topical Creams

Skin whitening creams are products that lighten the skin tone using an active or a combination of active ingredients to suppress melanin production, protect the skin from harmful UV rays and rejuvenate cells in the skin.

However, whitening creams have had a bad reputation; hydroquinone is to blame; It makes the treated areas of skin more sensitive to the sun and when used in the long term, it is toxic and may cause premature aging and darken the skin. Prolonged use of hydroquinone has been associated with the development of exogenous ochronosis (a persistent blue-black pigmentation).

Choose whitening creams that uses natural, safe and efficacious skin depigmenting agents, to inhibits tyrosinase activity and thus melanin production.

Slowly and naturally, they get rid of discoloration, dark spots, blemishes, acne scars from the face, and other affected body parts. Because of the blend of active ingredients, some creams give you a youthful glow and offer anti-aging benefits as well.

Since they have a combination of multiple ingredients in its most potent form, many of these creams are able to give better whitening results compared to ordinary serums.

2. Skin Whitening Supplements

Skin whitening supplements, with the right ingredients, inhibit enzyme activity (melanocytes) that’s necessary for melanin production. With controlled production, dark spots lighten and the overall skin tone balances out.

Since the supplements are consumed orally and go into the bloodstream, the lightening effects will be seen throughout the whole body. And because there’s a large surface area to be covered, visible effects take time, usually after about 3-4 months of consistent use and diligent sun protection habits.

Some skin whitening supplements, like Crystal Tomato Whitening Supplements, are able to increase the skin’s natural SPF because of their ingredients.

If your product contains L-Cysteine, which helps stimulate the production of glutathione in the body, which is the strongest antioxidant to fight free radicals and prevent premature ageing. It converts eumelanin (brown pigments) to pheomelanin (pink pigments) giving skin the rosy complexion.

3. Laser Treatments

Lasers are the most expensive treatment options and they are only good for certain types of skin pigmentation like sun spots; in certain other types of facial pigmentation, it might actually worsen it. In addition, laser treatment is not for everyone as darker skin individuals might get worsening of skin pigmentation post laser. Laser skin resurfacing uses focused beams of light that have specifically target chromophore (the color-producing areas of a molecule) to break up and eliminate the pigment particles in the skin.

4. Chemical Peels

A chemical peel uses acids at stronger concentrations to treat the desired area of skin or dark spot. They reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation by removing the epidermis. Deeper versions may also penetrate the middle layer of your skin (dermis) to produce more dramatic results.

Chemical peels are only to be performed by a doctor and common active ingredients in in-clinic peels include glycolic acid, mandelic acid and salicylic acid. If you’re out in the sun on a regular basis, chemical peels may not be the best treatment option for you. Chemical peels cause sun sensitivity. If you don’t adequately apply sunscreen with proper UV protection, the sun may damage your skin barrier and worsen your hyperpigmentation.

5. Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is another well-known exfoliating treatment for hyperpigmentation that uses tiny particles to slough away cells on the top layer of skin. It is a non-chemical procedure that’s nonablative, which means it does not destroy tissue, and thus recovery time needed is short.

Minute crystals are used to exfoliate the epidermis gently using a device that rolls over the face in rhythmic movements.

Such a process not only removes discoloration, blemishes, age spots, sun damaged skin, etc. but also helps in thickening your skin layers by stimulating more collagen. Extra collagen means bouncier, brighter and younger-looking skin for longer. Microdermabrasion also helps tighten your skin making it firm and smooth also removing the mild to moderate scars and deformities on the surface.

Microdermabrasion is best for milder hyperpigmentation conditions, since the results are modest in terms of improving the appearance of discoloration.

6. Sun Screen Is The Key!

After discussing all these treatments to reduce hyperpigmentation, the good news is preventing the appearance of yet another pesky dark spot is often as simple as wearing sunscreen (which you should already be using everyday).

Applying sunscreen daily is the absolute best way to avoid hyperpigmentation. Even if you’re indoors, as long as there is visible light, you’re probably exposed to some level of UV light exposure. When you add up the long periods being unprotected, it’s inevitable that a dark spot (or a few) appear.

Always remember to reapply sunscreen every two to four —even if it is labeled “all day”, “24-hour sunscreen”, waterproof etc, it is still necessary. If you’re out when the sun is highest, seek cool, shaded areas or wear UPF clothing, which helps protect the skin.

Finally, for all clinical treatments, we recommend you approach a board certified dermatologist with proper expertise to have your hyperpigmentation medically reviewed. Your board certified dermatologist will be able to provide medical advice on the best treatment for hyperpigmentation.