Your body contains a pigment called melanin, which determines the colour of your skin, hair and eyes. People with darker skin types tend to have more melanin in their skin cells than those with lighter skin – but imbalances and disorders of the skin can lead to inconsistent colouration, patterning and ‘blotches’. When skin cells are healthy, your skin will appear normal and even. However, when skin cells become damaged or unhealthy, extra melanin is produced to help protect your skin.
Common causes of hyperpigmentation are:over-exposure to the sun, genetics, hormonal changes, medical conditions and trauma to the skin (such as burns or as a result of spots and picking).
There are many different types of pigmentation on the face:
Melasma – A chronic skin condition which causes brown patches to appear on the face. It is more prevalent in women and those with darker skin types. It is believed to be linked to sun exposure and hormonal changes such as pregnancy.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation – This is darkening of the skin caused by inflammation (e.g acne, eczema, psoriasis) or trauma to the skin (e.g burns, aesthetic procedures such as laser, chemical peels).
Freckles – Freckles appear as multiple, small, brown flecks on the skin, often present from a young age.
Lentigo/lentigines (age spots) – These are very common over the age of 40; presenting as flat, brown, well-defined patches on areas of sun-exposed skin, such as the hands, face and chest.
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