What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is a harmless skin condition that is common especially in black and brown skin. Hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin produces more melanin, which is a pigment that gives the skin its colour causing your skin to become darker. Hyperpigmentation can appear in the form of spots or patches and it affects all skin types. There are a number of types of hyperpigmentation and the most common ones are melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and sunspots; also known as age spots and liver spots.


Melasma also known as ‘chloasma’ or ‘pregnancy mask’ is a condition characterised by tan or brown patches that can appear on the top lip, cheekbones, and forehead.

While it can occur in both sexes, melasma primarily afflicts women of childbearing age.  The cause is not is not fully understood but there is definitely a hormonal link. Some cases appear during pregnancy or while using oral contraceptives. Chronic sun exposure can also trigger or aggravate melasma, resulting in what is known as dermal melasma, a very complicated condition to treat.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)

Can occur as a default response to damage or irritation to the skin. PIH can occur from ultraviolet light exposure, or repeated exposure to irritating ingredients in skincare products.

Mild skin injuries , such as acne lesions, ingrown hairs, abrasions or insect bite, can result in very dark PIH macules.  PIH is usually epidermal (surface layer of the skin) suggesting that it can be easily corrected with topical treatments.

Both men and women are equally susceptible to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, it is more common in darker skin tones such as Asian and Black skin.


Sun Spots/Age Spots/Liver spots

A harmless patch of skin that is darkened due to exposure to the sun for a long period of time. They appear as small spots, typically on the face and hands. This type of hyperpigmentation is very common amongst adults over 50, although younger people can also get them if enough time in the sun is spent.

 What Causes Hyperpigmentation?

A common cause of hyperpigmentation is an excess production of melanin, which is responsible for your skin tone. Some causes include:
  • Inflammatory diseases such as; acne
  • Allergies
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Ageing
  • Excessive exposure to the sun
  • Tobacco smoking

Here at DW Aesthetics, we work directly with pharmacists and beauty professionals to develop a range of products to help with hyperpigmentation. We also offer a one-to-one free 15-minute online skin consultation, to help you in your skincare journey.