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Hyperpigmentation is a condition whereby the skin darkens in areas and is clearly different from the surrounding skin. This condition may be as a result of an excess in production of melanin. This is the pigment that gives the skin its color. It’s found in abundance in darker skinned people because the more the melanin, the darker the skin. Needless to say darker skinned people are more prone to hyperpigmentation though it affects people of all skin colors.

Hyperpigmentation can be caused by too much exposure to the sun, acne remains and skin injuries. Hyperpigmentation caused by exposure to the sun happens when the skin is exposed to the sun’s UV rays which are harmful. As a defensive mechanism, the melanin in the skin will darken the skin to protect it from the rays thus causing the skin to tan. If there were any areas which were darker already then the UV rays will cause them to darken further. This will result in solar lentigines or age spots. This is a condition in which patches of the skin darken as a result of exposure to the sun.

Another condition as a result of extreme exposure to the sun is freckles. This is a skin condition whereby the skin is covered in small dark circular spots. These spots are mostly found on the face and neck but there are known cases where they can appear on the back of the arms and on the back. Freckles are hereditary but some people can also get them when exposed to the sun for long periods. For those who already have them, staying in the sun for long without sunscreen will only make them more pronounced.

A common form of hyperpigmentation especially in women is melasma. This is a condition whereby the skin darkens in patches as a result of hormonal changes incurred during pregnancy. When a woman is pregnant there are new hormones at work and these hormones may have effects on the amount of melanin being produced. In this case it may raise the production levels leading to darkening of the skin in some areas. It is not only the face that darkens but also the abdomen and arms in some cases. Women are not the only ones who develop melasma. There have been recent studies that showed that men could to some extent suffer from melasma. The same goes for women who’ve never fallen pregnant, and can sometimes be caused by the oral contraceptive pill.

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