What Causes Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation can show up in many different ways: freckles, a birthmark, or a port wine stain, for example, or scar tissue from surgery, acne, or stretch marks. Understanding what causes hyperpigmentation is the first step in minimizing it.

At The Med Spa at Matthews Internal Medicine in Matthews, North Carolina, our medical aesthetics experts address your hyperpigmentation concerns using the latest in laser technology.

Hyperpigmentation basics

Hyperpigmentation is represented by spots on your skin that are darker than the surrounding pigmentation. In most cases, the hyperpigmentation is caused by extra melanin. Common causes of hyperpigmentation include:


Sunspots, also called liver spots, are caused by excessive sun exposure over time and usually show up on your face and hands first. Sun exposure can also make freckles darker and more prominent. In fact, 80% of skin aging and darkening is caused by UV exposure. Using sunscreen and hydrating your skin regularly can help you prevent photoaging of your skin.


Melasma is associated with hormonal changes and can cause areas of hyperpigmentation to appear on any area of your body, but your face and stomach are most common. Women who are pregnant often experience melasma; it can also be triggered by starting or stopping birth control or by taking hormone replacement therapy. Melasma affects 5 million Americans, mostly women.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is the result of injury to or inflammation in the skin. Acne can cause hyperpigmentation, as can surgery or severe stretch marks. Hemoglobin as well as melanin can gather around the site of an injury, leaving skin darkened and reddened. 


Medications may also lead to hyperpigmentation. The most common medications that can cause dark skin spots or patches include some antibiotics, drugs given to malaria patients, and antiarrhythmics (typically prescribed for irregular heart rhythm). Tell your aesthetician what medications you’re taking before your treatment starts.

Treatment for hyperpigmentation

If you opt for laser treatment at The Med Spa at Matthews Internal Medicine, you experience how the innovative Icon™ laser platform helps you minimize hyperpigmentation. The laser therapy gently breaks up melanin into tiny waste particles that your body’s lymphatic system then naturally disposes of. 

You may need several treatments spaced a month or two apart to achieve your desired result. Most people have only mild side effects, such as a little swelling and redness and a feeling of a low-grade sunburn for 2-24 hours.There’s no downtime with this treatment, so you can go right back to your day.

Laser therapy must be administered by a trained professional, especially if your skin contains a lot of natural melanin. Call 704-912-5928 or use our online scheduling option to request an appointment.

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