What is Skin Hyperpigmentation?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2019
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Skin hyperpigmentation is a condition that involves dark coloring of the skin. This is not the same as when a person is generally dark skinned. This condition involves abnormal coloring and can be experienced by people with varying tones of skin. An example of hyperpigmentation is a dark spot that is left from a pimple.

The skin is colored by cells called melanocytes, which produce a pigment known as melanin. When melanin production is adversely effected, skin hyperpigmentation can occur. There are several causes for such a condition. In many cases scar tissue is the culprit. This is an area of skin that has been damaged, perhaps by a wound or by acne.

Acne is a skin disorder caused by inflammation of the sebaceous glands. It often results in pimples that can occur on various areas of the body, such as the face, neck, and shoulders. Pimples often cause change to the skin’s color which are permanent.

The changes caused by acne are often found as dark spots. One may suspect that such skin hyperpigmentation would be most obvious among lighter people. However, it is often the most obvious among people with darker skin tones.


Freckles are also a form of hyperpigmentation. These are little dark spots often found scattered over a person’s face. They can also be found on other parts of the body. These are also a result of clumping melanocytes. This condition is generally found among lighter skinned people.

Acne and freckles are often seen as nuisances for aesthetic reasons. These conditions are not normally reasons for serious health concerns. There are some cases, however, when skin hyperpigmentation is connected to more serious conditions.

Cancer can be the cause of skin hyperpigmentation. This is seen with melanoma, which is a type of skin cancer characterized by a cluster of abnormally dark cells. This cluster can often be mistaken as a common mole, which is also an abnormally dark spot. With melanoma, however, the spot is actually a tumor that can cause serious problems. Signs that the problem may actually be melanoma include itching and bleeding.

Skin hyperpigmentation is often associated with Addison’s disease. This disorder is caused by a deficiency of hormones produced by the adrenal glands. As the body attempts to correct the problem another hormone is released that leads to increased melanin. A person suffering from this condition may experience darkening of creases of his hands or his mouth.


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