Hyperpigmentation is a common condition that makes some areas of the skin darker than others. “Hyper” means more, and “pigment” means color. The spots are sometimes called age spots, sun spots or liver spots.

Skin gets its color from a substance called melanin, which is made by skin cells. When those skin cells are damaged or unhealthy, they can produce too much melanin. The melanin can clump, causing that area to appear darker.

Many things can lead to hyperpigmentation:

  • Addison’s disease can produce hyperpigmentation that’s most obvious in areas of sun exposure, such as the face, neck, and hands, and areas exposure to friction, such as elbows and knees.
  • Genetics, such as a family with freckles.
  • Hormone changes, such as during puberty or pregnancy.
  • Injury or trauma to the skin, such as a wound or superficial burn injury.
  • Medications, such as oral contraceptives and drugs that cause sensitivity to sunlight.
  • Melasma. Some chemotherapy drugs can cause hyperpigmentation as a side effect.
  • Not getting enough of certain vitamins, such as B12 and folic acid.
  • Sun damage – The greater your exposure to the sun, the greater your risk of increased skin pigmentation.
  • Thyroid disorders.

How is hyperpigmentation treated?

Depending on the reasons for hyperpigmentation, Dr. Monique S. Cohn, DO FAOCD may suggest some lifestyle changes:

  • Avoid sun damage by staying out of the sun, use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and wear protective clothing.
  • Avoiding certain medications may also help prevent hyperpigmentation.
  • Taking vitamins.

Dr. Monique S. Cohn may also recommend prescription or over-the-counter topical therapy (creams or ointments you put on your skin):

  • Azelaic acid
  • Corticosteroids
  • Glycolic acid (alpha-hydroxy acid)
  • Hydroquinone
  • Kojic acid, a chemical that can reduce the amount of melanin the body produces.
  • Salicylic acid
  • Skin bleach
  • Tretinoin
  • Vitamin C or B3 (niacinamide)

Other treatments may include:

In some cases, dark areas will fade on their own with good sun protection. In other cases, more aggressive treatment is needed. Make an appointment online or, call 330-425-7600 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Monique S. Cohn, DO FAOCD at Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center.  She can help determine which of these treatments, if any, would be most effective for you.

{We are currently offering a special Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Package that includes 6 sessions for $1,375 or $275 per treatment. Click here for additional details on this special which expires on May 31, 2022.}