What is skin pigmentation?
Melanocytes are pigment-producing cells. The number of melanocytes in our skin determines our skin colour. Production of melanin is dependent on UV or sun exposure, and is a natural protective mechanism of the skin.
Excessive skin pigmentation is a result of abnormal production and deposit of melanin by the melanocytes.
Hyperpigmentation, areas that are darker than the rest of the skin, result from excess melanin production and deposition.
Causes of excess pigmentation?
Excess skin pigmentation (or hyperpigmentation) is usually caused by an overwhelming of the melanin-protective system. This leads to excess production and clumping of melanin, and the appearance of brown or darker spots of pigmentation in the skin.
Reasons for skin pigmentation problems are;
- UV radiation – Sun exposure
- Hormonal – ie melasma or chloasma which is a type of pigmentation usually caused by pregnancy or the pill
- Trauma to the skin – this can be a result of physical trauma to the skin, acne, chemical peels or laser treatments. This is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.