Melanin and hyperpigmentation
The skin on our face is a sensitive organ that changes over time – just like our bodies do.
Melanin is made by cells in the skin and is a natural pigment that gives color to the skin. The cells with responsibility to produce melanin is called melanocytes. Especially in the epidermis layer of the skin there is a lot of melanin, and their function is to absorb some of the damaging rays coming from the sun. This will make the skin brown, and the amount of melanin increases. So far so good, everything’s normal.  

But some factors can make the melanocytes increase the production of melanin abnormally and this is what we call hyperpigmentation. It’s a skin pigmentation disorder that appears as dark spots or patches on the skin. We usually talk about three different factors or types.

The major reason to hyperpigmentation is skin damage caused by the sun and we call them solar lentigines, age spots, sunspots or liver spots. They appear as brown or black spots commonly on the face and hands or other sun-exposed areas of the body. It usually affects older adults or those with extended sun exposure.

Another type of hyperpigmentation is called melasma and is caused by hormones. It affects women who are pregnant or taking birth control pills. Estrogen and Progesterone increase the production of melanin and therefore a significant part of women experience hyperpigmentation. And of course, our genetics play a role as well. This condition is also called “the mask of pregnancy” and it usually appears as large patches of darkened skin on the forehead, face and stomach. Usually, women with light skin are not affected in the same way as women with medium to darker skin.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
The last type of hyperpigmentation that we will describe here is caused by skin irritation or inflammation. The spots or patches of darkened skin can appear anywhere on the body where you’ve had an inflammatory skin condition, such as acne or eczema. It can also be other kinds of injury to the skin like bruises, burns etc.