What Causes Skin Pigmentation and 5 Ways to Avoid It

If you notice that some spots on your skin are darker than your normal skin tone, there may be a few reasons for this. It may be caused by a medical condition that needs treatment. Fortunately, this is not always the case. This pigmentation can be harmless and nothing to worry about.

However, it is always best to see your doctor to make sure nothing serious is going on. We decided to dig a little deeper and find out why we sometimes get these dark spots and if there is any way around them. And this is what we discovered.

There are several types of harmless pigmentation

Melasma is more common in women than men and is believed to be caused by hormonal changes. These changes can occur, for example, during pregnancy or if you are taking birth control pills.

In that case, the pigmentation will go away on its own after delivery or after you stop taking the pill. Stress can also cause melasma.

The discoloration usually appears on the face, but can also appear on other parts of the body. It doesn’t hurt. However, you can see a dermatologist if he is embarrassed about it, and he will tell you how it can be treated.

Liver spots usually appear in people over 40 years of age. Dark spots can appear almost anywhere on your body if you spend a lot of time in the sun, but they are harmless.

This is because ultraviolet light from the sun affects melatonin, the pigment that gives skin its color, and it is produced more quickly. As you age, melatonin production also begins to increase on its own.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is caused by injury or inflammation of the skin. It can be caused by acne, blisters, or burns and will go away on its own over time.

Medical Conditions or Medication 

Hyperpigmentation can be caused by Addison’s disease, an adrenal gland disorder that can increase melanin production. Certain drugs, including antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and antimalarials may all increase the risk of hyperpigmentation, according to a book published by StatPearls in July 2022. Some chemotherapy drugs can also cause temporary hyperpigmentation, per the advocacy group Cancer Connect. In the case of chemotherapy drugs, associated dark spots usually resolve 10 to 12 weeks after treatment ends as new skin cells replace dead ones.

How to reduce and prevent hyperpigmentation?

Take a look at your diet

What you eat can affect the health of your skin. Make sure you eat nutritious food. It can help prevent hyperpigmentation by minimizing the effects of cellular stress caused by hormonal imbalance, infection, and sun exposure.

Some of the foods that can help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation are pomegranates, spinach, kale, and carrots. They can provide your body with the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats that your skin needs.

It is also important to drink plenty of water. And it’s best to avoid soy, flaxseed, and garlic because they contain estrogen.

Explore OTC Whitening Options

The sooner you treat hyperpigmentation, the easier it will be to erase. “The pigment in brown spots can move deeper into the skin over time,” Dr. Downie explains.

Spot-eradicating ingredients to look for in OTC treatments include azelaic and glycolic acids, vitamin C, and retinoids, says the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD). 

“Treatments containing ingredients like vitamin C, licorice root, and kojic acid help reduce hyperpigmentation by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for the formation of skin-darkening melanin,” says Ni’Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist in New York City. Research published in 2017 in the Journal of Enzyme Inhibition and Medicinal Chemistry supports Wilson’s advice, noting that the knowledge of the link between tyrosinase and excess melanin development has led to the rise of multiple OTC products with the aforementioned ingredients.

While many of these OTC ingredients have “bleaching” effects on dark spots, the AAD strongly cautions against applying liquid bleach to your skin. The group recommends sticking with products made in the United States, as some imported skin-lightening products are contaminated with mercury, steroids, and other harmful ingredients.

try not to touch your skin

It can be tempting to pick a scab, squeeze a pimple, or scratch a mosquito bite. However, you should avoid doing things like this, as this can only increase the inflammation that causes dark spots to appear on your skin. Also, try not to touch the skin with dirty hands.


Skin trauma — such as acne, eczema, bug bites, cuts, scrapes, even scratching or friction from, say, vigorous rubbing — can set off inflammation. Inflammation, in turn, can send pigment-producing cells into high gear, leaving behind a dark spot after the injury has healed. When inflammation is the cause of discoloration it is often referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

protect yourself from the sun

Limit your time in the sun and avoid direct sunlight. You should put on sunscreen if you want to prevent skin discoloration, and you can also wear hats and clothing that covers your skin. To minimize the damage caused by ultraviolet light, you can also use moisturizers.

Have you ever experienced hyperpigmentation? What caused this? Did you try or did it right to keep the stains?

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