Got brown spots? You’ve probably been there—except if you’ve experienced the opposite. Skin pigmentation can be fickle, uneven, and just plain annoying, no matter what your skin tone. But what’s the deal with those changes in skin color, and what causes them?
Here’s what you need to know about hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, and what it all means for you and your skin.
Is it Hyperpigmentation or Hypopigmentation?
So, what’s the difference between hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation? Think of it like this: hyper means too much pigment and hypo means too little.
Hyperpigmentation describes everything from tiny brown freckles on your face that everyone adores to big brown patches you wish would just go away. It’s caused by extra melanin in your skin—too much melanin and you’ll see unwanted brown pigment.
You don’t want too little melanin, though. Hypopigmentation is the opposite of hyperpigmentation, and is less common, but can be even more upsetting than too much pigment in the skin. Lighter patches on the skin can be very noticeable and cause a lot of insecurity.
What’s Up with Your Skin?
So, what causes pigmentation problems? It all depends. Hyperpigmentation is common and pretty easy to treat in most cases—hypopigmentation tends to be more difficult to deal with.
The main cause of too much pigment? The sun! Skin that absorbs light will darken (why some of us tan and some of us freckle), especially if it’s super sensitive due to certain medications, skin tone, or skin treatments.
Hyperpigmentation can also happen during pregnancy, when hormones are whacky and cause all kinds of fun changes in the body. This skin darkening happens on the face and is call “melasma” or “the mask of pregnancy”. The good news? It can, and often does, go away on its own. Sunlight can make it worse, but melasma can be treated if it doesn’t disappear after pregnancy.
Struggling with lighter patches of skin? It’s a little less common, but there are genetic reasons you could have too little skin pigment. Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder that causes white patches on the skin—sometimes all over the body. There are some treatments for making the problem less noticeable—but nothing can get rid of vitiligo for good.
Skin damage can also cause hypopigmentation in the area of the injury. Sometimes, the pigment will return after a while, but it’s hard to say how much improvement there will be.
Worried about your own hyper- or hypopigmentation? It may be time to talk with an expert.
Considering Cosmetic Skin Treatments? Careful!
Skin tone can limit your options for cosmetic skin treatments, as some procedures carry a risk for hyper or hypopigmentation. Your chances for complications go down significantly by choosing a skilled provider! It’s important to discuss your options with an expert and understand the risks before you choose any kind of cosmetic treatment. The good news? Many modern skin treatments work well for all skin types and are very low risk.
Got Problems? Chat with an Expert
No one wants to deal with any kind of skin pigmentation problems, and it can be both frustrating and embarrassing to deal with them. That’s where an expert comes in—a board certified dermatologist should be able to give you advice and options about how to deal with your skin—and how to keep it looking more even-toned.
Dreading choosing a doctor? Go to a cosmetic dermatology specialist with experience in a range of skin problems, like Dr. Diane Walder and her colleagues in Miami, Florida. Dr. Walder is a nationally-recognized resource for many major publications like Allure, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan, and can be your trusted resource for all your skincare needs. Call (305-866-2177) today to schedule an appointment at Dr. Walder’s office and take your skincare to the next level.