Skin pigmentation doesn’t just come under one category. There are different types of pigmentation, each of which can be caused by different things. From freckles to brown spots, melasma to PIH; hyperpigmentation symptoms are not all equal.
Freckles are the most common type of skin pigmentation. Your genetics and skin type factor into whether you get freckles. For example, if you have fair skin you are more likely to get freckles. Regardless, these little skin spots are an early warning sign of sun damage. They develop after sun exposure which is why they become more prominent and appear darker during the sunnier months.
The medical term for brown spots is Solar Lentigines but they are also known as sun spots, age spots or liver spots. Although, they have nothing to do with your liver and everything to do with sun exposure and sun damage. This type of skin pigmentation varies in colour from light brown to black and can appear anywhere on the body. Caused by UV rays, brown spots must be monitored as they have the potential to develop into more harmful conditions like skin cancer and melanoma.
Melasma, unlike freckles and brown spots, is not directly caused by sun exposure. The direct cause is unknown but melasma is frequently triggered by hormonal changes and can be worsened by sun exposure, certain medications, stress and pregnancy, referred to as a ‘pregnancy mask’. Melasma is prevalent in women and appears on the face as larger tan or brown patches with an indistinct border.
Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Skin traumas such as acne scarring, burns, friction or aggressive clinical treatments (i.e. chemical peels, dermabrasion, laser and IPL) cause Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation or PIH. This type of skin pigmentation can improve with time and is treatable with topical skin brightening products.