Darkening of Skin or Hyperpigmentation

Skin | Dermatology | Darkening of Skin or Hyperpigmentation (Symptom)


Darkened skin, also known as hyperpigmentation, is the appearance of areas of skin that become darker than the surrounding skin. This change in color usually happens when there exists an overproduction of melanin, the pigment that is normally found in the skin, forming deposits that darken the skin color.


One of the most common causes of darkened skin is sun exposure. Energy from the ultraviolet rays of the sun is absorbed by melanin as a normal way to protect the skin from overexposure.

Usually, darkened skin appears as small spots, called age spots or lentigines, which can be caused by sun damage acquired over a long period of time. Sometimes darkened skin occurs as a result of a hormonal change (for example, during pregnancy or with the use of birth control pills). The condition hyperpigmentation is associated with a number of diseases or conditions, including: Addisons disease, Cushings disease, exposure to certain chemicals such as salicylic acid, bleomycin, and cisplatin, smokers melanosis, celiac disease, aromatase deficiency, Nelsons syndrome etc.

Sometimes hyperpigmentation can be induced by dermatological laser procedures. A combination of sun exposure and an allergic reaction can also result in darkened skin, usually to a specific plant or chemical. Darkened skin is not a symptom of a life-threatening condition. However, in some cases it can be a symptom of another disorder that will need treatment.


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