What causes hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation commonly presents itself as darkened patches of skin, often found on the face, and it has a number of causes. Knowing the cause can help when trying to identify potential treatment solutions, although some forms of hyperpigmentation may go away without the need for intervention. Below we will explore some of the main causes of hyperpigmentation.

Injury and inflammation

For those that have ever suffered from acne, eczema, cuts, burns or other injuries or inflammations on the face, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation may become an issue. This is where hyperpigmentation is directly caused by the skin healing itself after becoming inflamed or injured. Our moisturising face cream has anti-inflammatory properties which help to prevent hyperpigmentation in those suffering from facial injury or inflammation.

Sun exposure

Skin that is left unprotected from sun exposure, particularly over a long period of time, will be much more susceptible to hyperpigmentation. Sunlight actually triggers the production of melanin in the skin, which is the pigment responsible for skin colour. Melanin is the skin’s natural sunscreen and protects it from the sun’s rays, so people who aren't using sun protection are leaving themselves at a much higher risk of hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is often seen as a natural part of ageing when people start to notice what is sometimes called ‘liver spots’, but this is actually hyperpigmentation caused by sun exposure over the years. Our hydrating serum aims to hydrate, repair and rejuvenate aging skin, helping it to fight the effects of sun exposure.

Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes are another major cause of hyperpigmentation, particularly in women as the hormonal changes associated with hyperpigmentation are often a side effect of birth control medication and pregnancy. Pregnancy can cause what is known as ‘melasma’, which is what creates the dark patches of skin on the face. Around 90% of people who suffer from melasma are women. In many cases, melasma will clear itself up after a while.

Health issues

There are a number of health issues that are associated with hyperpigmentation, including obesity, diabetes and some types of cancer (most notably stomach cancer). These health issues don’t always result in hyperpigmentation on the face, as they can cause a condition called ‘acanthosis nigricans’, which results in darkened patches of skin in the armpits, neck and groin.


There are numerous medications that can cause hyperpigmentation, either by depositing heavy metals in the dermis, causing an accumulation of melanin or just through general reactions with the skin. The most notable medications that are often associated with hyperpigmentation include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antimalarials, amiodarone, phenytoin, antipsychotic drugs, cytotoxic drugs and tetracyclines.


Another common and self inflicted cause of hyperpigmentation is smoking, which can increase the amount of melanin in the skin. Smoking is known to cause yellowness of teeth, nails and fingers, but it also causes vascular constriction, so blood is not flowing efficiently and effectively, therefore resulting in broken capillaries and veins, which then leads to skin discoloration and hyperpigmentation.

Skin colour

For people with darker skin tones, hyperpigmentation can take longer to resolve than it does for people with lighter skin tones. This is due to the type of melanin which is more prevalent in their skin, known as ‘black eumelanin’. While this isn’t necessarily a direct cause of hyperpigmentation, it does mean that people with dark skin have more difficulty treating hyperpigmentation. This makes using sun protection and maintaining a healthy skincare routine even more important for people with dark skin.

While there are many causes of hyperpigmentation, there are many cures too. At Epara Skincare, we specialise in designing skincare products that help to prevent issues such as hyperpigmentation that are so common in women. From our moisturising face cream to our hydrating serum, we have the right products to protect, heal and strengthen your skin.

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