Have you often noticed small areas of discoloration on your body or unusual dark spots on your face? These signs may indicate pigmentation in the skin. The pigment is determined by the amount and kind of melanin, a pigment produced by specialized skin cells known as melanocytes. Melanin is a skin pigment that gives its color. Melanin production changes can result in pigment disorders such 

  • Dark spots (skin with too much melanin)
  • Light spots (skin with too little melanin)
  • White spots or patches (skin with no melanin at all)

Here’s everything you need to know about pigmentation, from causes to prevention to remedies.

What exactly is Skin Pigmentation?

Before going any further let’s know more about melanin.

Melanin is classified into two types:

  • Eumelanin

It is black or dark brown in color and is present in persons with matte skin (it protects from UV rays).

  1. Phaeomelanin

This is sometimes referred to as red or redhead melanin. It is found in persons who have a pale complexion or red hair. It does not provide UV protection. O the contrary, its production produces free radicals that harm the skin.

These two forms of melanin are found in variable quantities in each person. The quantity determines a person’s natural skin color as well as how effectively they tan when exposed to sunlight.  

So, pigmentation is a disorder that causes the skin to darken. It creates changes in the color of your skin. It typically appears on the cheekbones, nose, and forehead. Pigmentation can be identified by any sort of discoloration or uneven skin appearance.

Causes of Pigmentation in Skin

Acne, blisters, wounds, sun exposure, hereditary factors, and autoimmune diseases can all induce changes in melanin and hence skin pigmentation.

Let’s discuss some of the causes of skin pigmentation:

Sun Exposure

You may have realized that daylight makes your skin darker. However, for some people tanning can result in hyperpigmentation. Whenever the skin is exposed to the sun, it leads to the creation of a burning reaction. However, such a reaction occurs at quite low levels that it completely goes unnoticed. And when sun exposure happens for a longer duration of time, it results in aggravation of skin irritation causing hyperpigmentation. 

The ultraviolet rays cross through the epidermis layer and stimulate the pigmentation cells or melanocytes in the skin. Upon continuous disruption, these cells start to secrete large amounts of melanin. And the spots start to appear because of the abnormally increased production of melanin. It leads to uneven distribution of melanin over the skin causing it accumulates in some areas resulting in unsightly spots and marks. 


The risk of hyperpigmentation rises with age and typically affects the areas that are most exposed to the sun over time (neck, face, hands, etc.). Besides the sun, pigment patches are caused mostly by the sun and aging. Skin discolorations are common in people over the age of 50. As with other systems in your body, your skin thins and dries with age, making it more prone to scaly areas and discolorations.

As you get older, your skin produces less collagen and elastin, which are proteins that maintain your skin plump, smooth, and healthy.


Skin pigmentation is a condition that some people are born with. Even though the pigmentation is inherited, it can occur at any age. If someone in your family has severe skin pigmentation, there is a chance that you may get it as well. Furthermore, if you have a hereditary susceptibility for hyperpigmentation, even minor causes such as hormone changes, sun exposure, or skin damage might produce hyperpigmentation.

Here is an interesting fact:


More than 125 genes are known to influence skin pigmentation. Genes, together with hormones, are in charge of controlling the melanin synthesis process. They can control how much eumelanin or pheomelanin your skin cells generate, as well as how effectively they survive and function. This causes skin color changes over time.


What are the Visual Signs of Skin Pigmentation?

How can you spot skin pigmentation, especially hyperpigmentation? Are all of the discolorations hyperpigmented? Obviously not! Certain symptoms are specific to the skin problem and can help you identify and cure it.

Age Spots

They are typically flat dots that range in color from tan to dark brown. They might be gray or black, and they can be a half-inch or more in diameter. At times, what you may consider just as age spots might be signs of skin pigmentation. Age spots develop on the areas of your skin that receive the most sun, like:

  • Your upper back
  • Your forearms
  • Your shoulders
  • The backs of your hands
  • Your face

Sun Spots

Sun spots are flat, brown spots that appear on the skin due to sun exposure. They appear on the sun-exposed areas of your body, such as your face, shoulders, back, and the backs of your hands. They often emerge around the age of 40, while some people may get them earlier or later in life, depending on their level of sun exposure.


Melasma is most commonly found on the face, generally in one or more of the following areas:

  • Forehead
  • Cheeks
  • little above the top lip
  • Chin
  • Nose

Melasma rarely appears on the neck, jawline, arms, or anywhere else on the body.

Melasma generates blotchy patches and dots that resemble freckles wherever it emerges. The hue changes depending on the individual’s skin tone and the intensity of the melasma. Melasma is often somewhat darker than your normal skin color. Most individuals see different tones of brown. In persons with darker skin tones, melasma might seem blue-gray.

Broken Blood Vessels on Face

Some people may have redness all over their face (and occasionally their chest) all of the time, or it may be worse at particular times – notably when exposed to the sun, cold or wind, heat, and so on. Broken capillaries or blood vessels appear on the face as little purple or red squiggles. These may be a sign of skin pigmentation in your skin. 


The most noticeable feature will be rosacea. You will experience redness on your cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead. The color might also develop on your neck, chest, head, or ears less frequently.

After a while, broken blood vessels may appear through your skin, causing it to thicken and enlarge. Up to half of the rosacea patients experience ocular issues such as redness, edema, and discomfort.

Treatments of Pigmentation on Skin

Lasers could not properly cure sun-damaged, aging skin in the past because they were treated too deeply or too superficially. Because of today’s cutting-edge technologies, a laser is the best option to treat skin pigmentation. 

BBL Laser

BBL stands for BroadBand Light laser technology that uses Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) to discover and break down unwanted pigment in the skin dissolving it, giving you an even, smooth complexion. BBL treatments employ a wide range of wavelengths to target the underlying layers of your skin. This light energy is absorbed by your skin, which increases collagen formation and removes pigmented (darker) skin cells.

Separate lasers are used for different skin tones such as red and brown. Besides, the lasers are designed to target specific discolorations. 

Age spots UV damage, redness, damaged face vessels, wrinkles, and lackluster skin are all treated by BBL including various illnesses, as well as the consequences of rosacea. It can also help to conceal freckles and birthmarks. The therapy may be applied to any part of the body, including the face, chest, neck, hands, and arms.

Your cosmetologist will apply a cooling gel to the treatment area and a local anesthetic. During the procedure, you may experience pulses, sensations, and mild pain sometimes. Your skin will feel warm and appear slightly red or sunburned. It takes about 30 minutes for the BBL laser treatment depending on the size of the area to be treated. 


Because Halo is a two-in-one laser, employing two separate wavelengths (ablative and non-ablative). You can precisely target damaged skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, pigmentation, and scars while encouraging your body’s inherent healing processes. 

HALO employs laser technology to undo years of damage by activating your body’s natural healing reaction and restoring the dazzling shine you once had!

The strong benefits of HALO can be utilized to enhance skin texture restore a youthful glow. Besides, it assists in delaying or eliminating the requirement for surgical treatments as a vital element of many patients’ long-term skin care regimen.

Before the treatment, the physician will apply a topical anesthetic cream to the skin to numb the region to be treated.

As the HALO handpiece softly glides across your skin, you should experience minimal to no irritation. Cool air will be blown in parallel for further comfort. Most patients will feel warm for 30 to 60 minutes after the treatment, or a little longer with deeper treatment levels.


If you still have any questions about skin pigmentation and its treatment, you can visit us and discuss the best solution for your skin issues. 

Healthy Glowing Skin Starts Here

Questions about where to start? Come in for a complimentary consultation at our Mill Bay Clinic and our team will personalize a treatment plan to help you achieve your goals.