Hyperpigmentation is darkening or reddening of the skin as an aftereffect of inflammation or in response to UV radiation (sun damage). Acne, insect bites, or any other injury to the skin may result in reddish pigmentation. Sun exposure and certain hormonal changes (such as those that occur during pregnancy) tend to cause dull brown patches in the upper layers of the skin. These changes can be long lasting. Although this condition typically has no adverse health consequences, it can detract significantly from your appearance.

Potential Treatments

  • Hydroquinone or kojic acid – Skin bleaching agents that lighten red or brown areas. Retinoids and steroids may be used in combination with a bleaching agent in some cases.
  • Azeleic acid – An anti-inflammatory agent that reduces redness
  • Chemical peels – A fairly mild glycolic acid (AHA) skin treatment to exfoliate brown patches of skin
  • Fractional laser resurfacing – for areas that don’t respond to less invasive treatment

With all of the treatment methods listed above, patients must avoid sun exposure for a period of time to prevent undesirable changes in skin tone. Laser therapy has been known to actually cause hyperpigmentation in individuals with darker skin. So, this approach should be used with caution.

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