Your skin is a very delicate organ, and hyperpigmentation is often a result of environmental or internal factors damaging it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help prevent hyperpigmentation from occurring or work to reduce its appearance. Here, we chat with a derm about what causes skin pigmentation and how to get rid of dark spots.
To gain more insight into hyperpigmentation, we chatted with Deirdre Hooper, a New Orleans-based board-certified dermatologist and an associate clinical professor in the Department of Dermatology at Louisiana State University and Tulane University. Here she breaks down everything you need to know about hyperpigmentation.
What is hyperpigmentation, and how do you get it?
Hyperpigmentation is dark patches on the skin triggered by inflammation trauma, acne, and UV damage.
Are there certain skin types that make someone more susceptible to hyperpigmentation?
Darker skin types are more likely to develop hyperpigmentation from acne and trauma to skin (picking at pimples and skin). All skin types produce pigment as part of the aging process, but I usually see more freckle-type splotches in lighter skin types and more overall unevenness in darker skin types.
How is hyperpigmentation different from melasma or dark spots?
It’s not. All of these are forms of hyperpigmentation. A board-certified dermatologist can help you distinguish what your issue is. There are nuances to treatment, but all types of hyperpigmentation are allowed by using sunscreen in all skin types and colors.
What kind of relationship does sunscreen have with hyperpigmentation?
Sunscreen is hugely vital in preventing hyperpigmentation. It prevents the accumulation of photodamage that leads to brown spots and PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), which is the hyperpigmentation that develops after acne.
Your skin cells respond to UV light by producing more melanin as a self-protective mechanism, and SPF blocks the light that injures the cells. All pigment, including a tan, is a sign of damage and injury. You can’t ever get a fresh start for the skin once that happens, so you should set yourself up for a lifetime of better skin by using SPF every day. Sunscreen is preventative and pays dividends for brighter, clearer skin for a lifetime.