The skin colour is formed by melanin pigment. Excess synthesis of melanin imparts dark colour to the skin. And lack of melanin production, in turn, makes the skin shade lighter.


What causes pigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is a common skin problem, and it is a condition in which melanin is increased, and skin becomes dark eventually. It leads to the formation of dark patches than the surrounding healthy skin. It is also caused due to drugs like arsenic, mercury, 5-flurouracil, anti-arrhythmic, antiviral (zidovudine), antibiotics and antimalarial drugs, estrogen and oral contraceptives, excessive sun exposure.

Can pigmentation be removed?

There are several medications in the form of creams and tablets and procedures like chemical peels and laser to reduce the effects of melisma.

Why does pigmentation happen on the face?

Melasma or blemishes
“Melasma” is the most common pigmentary disorders of the skin. It is commonly seen in the following conditions
  1. Excessive ultraviolet rays or sun exposure
  2. Pregnancy and oral contraceptives
  3. Drugs

Melasma is seen in females commonly. It presents as hyperpigmented patches over upper lip, cheeks, forehead, chin. Melasma can cause significant cosmetic concern and emotional and psychosocial distress.

Is Melasma treatable?

Melasma may completely clear with proper treatment and strict sun protection as this helps in preventing reoccurrences.

How to get rid of hyperpigmentation?

There are treatment options available in thefollowing forms:

  • Sunscreens       
  • Kojic acid
  • Chemical peels      
  • Frational CO2 Laser   
  • Medical treatment in the form of creams, lotions and
  • Oral medication.

What sort of sunscreen should I use? What can stop pigmentation?

Broad-spectrum sunscreen like acne-UV or UV trap (SPF>50). It should be used before sun exposure, usually 20 minutes.

Freckles and Lentigines
  • Small, pale, brown spots less than 3mm size on sun-exposed body parts.
  • Treatment includes Sun avoidance and sunscreens like UV-trap, skin lightening agents and lasers.
Lip pigmentation
It is seen due to the following reasons:
  • Physiological
  • Hereditary
  • Cigar and cigarette Smoking
  • Some Drugs
  • Dryness of lips Creams, chemical peels, and lasers have benefit in improvement of the colour of lips.
Dark underarms, neck
  • Darkness in the neck folds, underarms and groins are associated with obesity requires some testing and ruling out insulin resistance.
  • Medical treatment and lifestyle modification would suffice in those cases along with topical treatment like creams and lotions.
  • Chemical peels also help to a reasonable extent.


Hypopigmentation occurs when skin shade becomes lighter than surrounding healthy skin. It is seen when the skin is damaged from infections, insect bite, blisters, burns or trauma or autoimmune diseases. The affected skin area loses pigment, and the skin appears lighter.

Vitiligo-one of the most frequent type of hypopigmentation

Vitiligo is due to lack of melanin production by melanocytes in the skin, which results in the formation of white patches on the skin. This decrease in melanin occurs when the melanocytes die or stop making pigment.

How to treat hypopigmentation?
It can be treated by using steroid creams, medicines like tacrolimus and UV-light.