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Pigmentation Explained - Causes and Treatments

Did you know that there are multiple types of pigmentation? In this blog we talk why different pigmentations in the skin occur and how you can prevent and treat them.

Explaining Discoloration

Your skin gets it's color (pigmentation) from its melanin production. The more melanin your skin produces, the darker you are, and vice versa. Melanin is produced via special cells called melanocytes. When these cells are harmed or damaged, they can increase or decrease the amount of melanin they produce, causing discoloration. Hyperpigmentation is the result of an increase in melanin, which causes darker skin. Hypopigmentation is the result of a decrease in melanin, which causes lighter skin. Some pigmentation disorders effect the entire body, but others can only effect small patches.

Types of Pigmentation

All of the types of pigmentation listed above are not synonymous with each other. Finding out what type of pigmentation disorder you have and what's causing it can help you figure out what is going on with your skin, therefore allowing you to find the best treatment options.

Hyperpigmentation: There are several types of hyperpigmentation, the most common being melasma, sun spots, and PIH or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

  • Melasma: Melasma is a common skin disorder that appears as light-brown, dark-brown, or blue-grey patches on the skin. Commonly affected areas include the cheeks, upper lip, forehead, forearms, and stomach. Melasma is thought to occur because of hormonal changes, which is why pregnant women make up the majority of people affected by this pigmentation disorder. In response to light, heat, or hormonal changes, the melanocytes produce more melanin, darkening the skin. Laser treatments can incredibly reduce or even get rid of melasma.

Picture from Medical News Today

  • Sun Spots: Also called liver spots, age spots, solar lentigens or freckles, sun spots occur from excess sun exposure overtime and are harmless, flat, and brown. Exposure to the sun or tanning beds increases the production of melanin, and overtime, melanin may be clumped together or produced in highly concentrated amounts, causing sunspots. Laser treatments can target these spots, resulting in reduction of appearance, and in some cases, get rid of them altogether.

Picture from Mayo Clinic

  • PIH: Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs after your skin has been damaged or injured in someway. When your cells react to this damage by producing extra melanin, PIH happens. The skin condition shows up as tan, brown, dark, or blue-ish grey spots on your skin. The most common triggers are acne, eczema, and impetigo, but PIH can result from any trauma or irritation to the skin. Laser treatments will help reduce inflammation, acne, and acne scars.

Taken from Eucerin

Hypopigmentation: Hypopigmentation is the loss of skin pigment or color and can be due to a number of reasons and can affect all skin types but is most noticeable in people with darker pigmented skin. Albinism and vitiligo are examples of hypopigmentation, but for the purposes of this blog we will focus on skin disorders that have a known treatment.

  • Pityriasis alba: A person with skin skin condition will have raised, slightly inflamed patches on their skin that can lose pigment overtime due to inflammation. The lesions usually affect the face, arms, and upper trunk. There is no known cause for pityriasis, but it may be associated with eczema. (1) Low-dosed steroid creams may help inflammation.

Taken from Medical News Today

  • Pityriasis versicolor: A fungal skin infection that causes flat, circular patches on the skin. The fungus that causes this lives on the skin of most people, but usually does not cause symptoms. (1) Pityriasis vesicolor can occur on the chest, upper back, abdomen, and upper arms. Treatment usually involves a topical or oral anti-fungal medication.

Taken from Medical News Today


Preventing skin discoloration can be tricky, especially since some of it is hormone or medication induced. The best way to prevent pigmentation is to use a broad spectrum SPF and avoid excessive sun exposure. If you still manage to get hyperpigmentation, we can help.

Treatment for Pigmentation

There are many different options available for skin pigmentation. The Lotus offers many of these treatments including: laser treatments, dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, microneedling, chemical peels, IPL therapy, retinoids, dermaplaning, and lightening creams. If you or someone you know is struggling with skin discoloration and would like to know more about our treatments and treatment plans, give us a call. We take pride in our detail and consistency in providing you with thorough and personalized strategies tailored to your schedule, budget, and aesthetic needs.



(1) de Pietro, M. C. (2022, June 28). What is hypopigmentation? Medical News Today. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from

Fletcher, J. (2022, April 22). What is melasma? Medical News Today. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from

de Pietro, M. C. (2022a, March 7). What You Should Know About Hyperpigmentation. Healthline. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from

Eucerin. (n.d.). Hyperpigmentation | post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from

Age spots (liver spots) - Symptoms and causes. (2022, February 11). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from


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