Hyperpigmentation is a condition when certain areas of the skin become darker than the surrounding skin color. This condition is generally painless or itchy, but can be distracting.
Hyperpigmentation can appear as black, brown, or gray. This condition can occur in one part of the body or extend to several parts of the body. However, hyperpigmentation can be treated with several treatments, such as the use of topical medications and laser therapy.
Causes of Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation occurs when skin cells produce too much melanin , the substance that gives skin its color. Excessively produced melanin can clump together and form darker patches on the skin.
There are several factors that can cause excessive melanin production, namely:
- Sun exposure
- Inflammation of the skin
- Aging process
- Injury to the skin, such as acne or burns
- Hormonal changes, for example during pregnancy or during puberty
- Take birth control pills
- Use of drugs that can increase skin sensitivity to sunlight, such as antibiotics, antihistamines and antihypertensives
- Lack of certain vitamins, such as vitamin B12
- Disorders of the adrenal glands, such as Addison's disease
- Thyroid disease
Based on the cause, hyperpigmentation can be divided into several types. Some of the most common types that occur are:
- Melasma, occurs due to sun exposure and pregnancy
- Lentigo occurs due to sun exposure and congenital diseases, such as Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
- Drug-induced hyperpigmentation, occurs as a side effect of certain drugs or chemicals
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs as a result of injury to the skin, such as a burn, inflammation, or allergic reaction
The main symptom of hyperpigmentation is the appearance of dark patches on the skin . These spots can be small or large and can spread to all parts of the body.
Apart from the appearance of spots, hyperpigmentation does not cause other symptoms, such as pain or itching. Even so, hyperpigmentation can make sufferers feel insecure due to the appearance of spots that interfere with appearance.
Based on the area where the spots appear, hyperpigmentation can be divided into two types, namely:
- Focal hyperpigmentation ( focal hyperpigmentation ) , which is hyperpigmentation that occurs in only one area of the skin. This hypermentation generally occurs due to sun exposure, injury, and congenital abnormalities.
- Widespread hyperpigmentation ( diffuse hyperpigmentation ), namely hyperpigmentation that occurs in several areas of the skin. This type generally occurs due to side effects of drug use.
When to see a doctor
Check with your doctor if you notice dark patches on the skin. You also need to see a doctor immediately if the dark spots are accompanied by some of the following symptoms:
- Hot feeling to the touch
- Pain and itching
- pins and needles
- Blood or pus in the spotting area
To diagnose hyperpigmentation, the doctor will ask and answer questions about the appearance of dark spots on the patient's skin, including when these spots appear. The doctor will also ask about the health condition and medicines the patient is taking.
After that, the doctor will do a physical examination of the patient's skin by looking at and feeling the dark areas that appear.
To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor can carry out supporting examinations, such as:
- Wood's lamp , to detect bacteria or fungi that cause skin problems
- Blood tests , to check levels of vitamins, hormones, iron, and thyroid function
- Skin biopsy, to detect abnormalities in skin cells
Treatment of hyperpigmentation depends on the underlying cause. However, hyperpigmentation can generally be treated with the following treatments:
- Topical hydroquinone drug , to brighten the skin
- Retinoid topical medication, to disguise dark spots on the skin
- Chemical peeling , to remove the outermost layer of skin to be replaced with a new layer of skin
- Laser therapy, to stimulate the formation of new skin cells so that dark spots on the skin are disguised
Please note, topical medications that contain hyroquinone cannot be used in the long term, because they can cause darkening of the skin (ochronosis). Therefore, consult your doctor about using this drug.
In addition to the above treatment methods, the doctor will also advise the patient to use a sunscreen that contains an SPF of 30 or more. The use of this sunscreen must be done regularly, especially if you are going to do outdoor activities.
Generally, hyperpigmentation does not cause any complications. However, if this condition gets worse and occurs in several parts of the body, sufferers can feel less confident, stressed , maybe even depressed .
In addition, hyperpigmentation treatment can also cause several complications, such as allergic reactions and skin irritation.
Hyperpigmentation is difficult to prevent. However, there are several ways you can protect your skin from sun exposure, namely:
- Use sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30
- Wear closed clothes and a hat when doing outdoor activities during the day
- Avoid activities in the sun for too long
- Consult a doctor first before using drugs that can increase sensitivity to sunlight, such as antibiotics and antifungals