Get rid of stubborn pigmentation

Pigmentation, or hyperpigmentation, refers to when the skin becomes darkened by a pigment called melanin. This pigment causes dark spots and patches that are commonly seen in the face and arms.

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What causes pigmentation?

Pigmentation is caused when there is the production of melanin in our skin. There are cells inside our skin called melanocytes which are directly responsible for producing pigmentation. This pigment forms deposits in our skin, causing the dark spots we see. Many hyperpigmentation issues are caused by prolonged exposure to sunlight. Others can be caused by hormonal changes such as pregnancy or menopause, or if you take birth control pills. Some cases of hyperpigmentation may be inherited conditions, while others may be caused by external factors such as acne or injuries that leave dark spots after healing.
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More about stubborn pigmentation

What are the types of pigmentation?

Various forms of pigmentation include: Freckles, Melasma, Hori’s Naevus, Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH).


Freckles are small brown spots on skin often exposed to sunlight. Freckles are mostly harmless and form because of excessive melanin production. They usually come about due to stimulation from ultraviolet (UV) light. There are two types of freckles, ephelides and solar lentigo. They look similar but can differ in terms of development. Both are affected by sunlight and occur more commonly in lighter-skinned people such as Caucasians.
  • Ephelides – This is largely genetically determined but is induced by sunlight. They tend to darken in summer and fade during winter.
  • Solar lentigo – This is a larger type of freckle induced by sun exposure and sunburns.


Also known as the “mask of pregnancy”, melasma is infamous for affecting pregnant women due to increased levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. They appear as flat patches that can be brown or blue-grey. It can also be called chloasma.

Hori’s Naevus

This is a benign condition where there are blue-grey or grey-brown patchy and spotty pigmentation on the cheeks. This is due to the melanocytes being present in not just the upper layer of the skin but also the dermis. When melanin is also present in the deeper layers of the skin, it results in perceived colour changes from black-brown to blue-grey. It usually occurs in adulthood and is most common in middle-aged Asian women. Genetics and hormones may influence the development of Hori’s Naevus.

Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)

These are dark spots left behind after an inflamed area, such as pimple, has healed. As the skin heals, it produces too much melanin that darkens and discolours the skin. It is the skin’s natural response to inflammation. PIH can develop in people of all skin types, but it tends to be more severe or prolonged in people with medium to dark complexions.

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