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Hyperpigmentation vs Hypopigmentation

Mar 18, 2021

Recently, does your skin seem to be increasingly spotty? Whether you see dark spots or lighter patches on your face, it can be disconcerting. You’re not alone, though. Changes in pigmentation can happen to people of all ages, and while they’re sometimes temporary, they can also last for a long time If there’s an underlying skin condition. Let’s look at the difference between hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation and some of the causes for each.

  • Hyperpigmentation is the result of increased melanin production. Melanin is the substance responsible for the color of your skin, but if your body begins to produce too much of it, you might start to see dark spots on your skin. Hyperpigmentation can be caused by sun damage, previous skin inflammation, or certain drugs, like antibiotics, antiarrhythmics, or antimalarial medications. It can also occur in melasma, dark spots caused by sun exposure, and hormones. In some cases, hyperpigmentation results from a rare condition like Addison’s disease, which affects the adrenal gland’s function.
  • Hypopigmentation means a decrease in melanin. This results in lighter patches on the skin and can be caused by previous inflammation or trauma, like blisters, burns, infections, or rashes. Some skin infections, like the fungal infection known as tinea versicolor, can lighten the skin. On the other hand, sometimes hyperpigmentation is caused by an autoimmune disorder like vitiligo, which damages pigment-producing cells.
  • Both hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation can be treated. Sunscreen and sun-protective clothing are a great first step in either case. Sun protection can reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation and can protect hypopigmented skin from sunburns and further damage. You can try a non-prescription skin-lightening agent for hyperpigmentation or use makeup to cover hypopigmentation.
  • Your dermatologist will have the most effective solutions for your pigment issue. There are prescription skin-lightening medications that a dermatologist can recommend. Hyperpigmentation can also be addressed using chemical peels or light and laser therapies. Hypopigmentation treatment requires addressing the underlying conditions that are causing the problem. There are remedies your dermatologist can offer, like topical and UV light therapies for vitiligo.
  • The best course of action is likely a combination of approaches. If you see your dermatologist for your pigmentation concerns, he or she can recommend a skin-care routine, along with in-office treatments, to help you resolve your problem so that you can look and feel your best.

If you’re concerned about changes in your pigmentation, contact Arlington Dermatology. Any time you need a board-certified dermatologist, you can trust us to help you care for your skin. For over 40 years, our Board-Certified dermatologists have been serving patients, making our patients’ health and welfare our top priority. We offer innovative treatment methods using state-of-the-art medical equipment in our conveniently located, patient-friendly facility in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Contact us or call 847-392-5440.