Hyperpigmentation - here’s what it is and ways to manage it

Hyperpigmentation affects many people, regardless of age or skin type. Picture: Freepik

Hyperpigmentation affects many people, regardless of age or skin type. Picture: Freepik

Published Oct 25, 2023


Whether you’ve just had a baby or spent too much time in the sun during your youth, skin hyperpigmentation is a common dermatological concern that affects many people, regardless of age or skin type.

It refers to the darkening or discolouration of certain areas of the skin - commonly found on the face and hands - resulting from an overproduction of melanin. Melanin is the pigment responsible for giving colour to our skin, hair, and eyes.

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of hyperpigmentation, such as sun exposure, hormonal changes, genetics, acne scars, and certain medical conditions.

Hyperpigmentation can be caused by acne scars. Picture: Freepik

While it is generally harmless, hyperpigmentation can cause self-esteem issues and make individuals feel self-conscious about their appearance.

Many women go as far as using heavy foundations on a daily basis to cover pigmentation on their faces.

Fortunately, there are various treatment options available to help reduce and effectively manage hyperpigmentation, depending on its severity and underlying cause.

Here are the most popular treatments many people who have hyperpigmentation use.

Topical treatments

Over-the-counter or prescription creams that contain ingredients like hydroquinone, retinoids, kojic acid, azelaic acid, or vitamin C can help lighten and even out the skin tone.

These ingredients work by inhibiting melanin production or promoting cell turnover, which gradually fades hyperpigmentation over time.

Chemical peels

Chemical peels involve applying a chemical solution to the skin, which exfoliates the top layer, revealing a fresher, more evenly toned complexion.

Chemical peels can be superficial, medium, or deep, depending on the depth of the pigmentation and desired results. They can effectively target hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage or melasma.

Chemical peels is one form of treatment. Picture: Pexels Anna Shvets

Laser therapy

Laser treatments utilise high-energy light beams to target and break down excess melanin in the skin. Different types of lasers, such as intense pulsed light (IPL) or fractional lasers, can be used, depending on the specific pigmentation concern.

Laser therapy helps to stimulate collagen production and promote the growth of new, healthier skin cells, leading to a more balanced skin tone.


This non-invasive procedure involves using a handheld device to gently exfoliate the skin, removing the outer layer and revealing fresher, more evenly toned skin. Microdermabrasion can help improve the appearance of mild hyperpigmentation and enhance overall skin texture.


Similar to microdermabrasion, dermabrasion is a more aggressive procedure that involves the use of a high-speed rotating brush or diamond wheel to remove the top layer of skin.

It is typically used for more severe cases of hyperpigmentation and can require some downtime for the skin to heal.

While there might be ways to treat the skin condition, it’s always best to try and prevent it or cause further damage.

Regularly wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, avoiding excessive sun exposure, and using protective clothing and accessories can help prevent further darkening of existing hyperpigmentation and the development of new spots.