Hyperpigmentation is a common, usually harmless condition in which patches of skin become darker in color than the normal surrounding skin. This darkening occurs when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin color, forms deposits in the skin. Hyperpigmentation can affect the skin colour of people of any race.
Age or "liver" spots are a common form of hyperpigmentation. They occur due to sun damage and these small, darkened patches are usually found on the hands and face or other areas frequently exposed to the sun. Freckles are small brown spots that can appear anywhere on the body, but are most common on the face and arms.
Freckles are an inherited characteristic. Freckles, age spots, and other darkened skin patches can become darker or more pronounced when skin is exposed to the sun. This happens because melanin absorbs the energy of the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays in order to protect the skin from overexposure. The usual result of this process is skin tanning, which tends to darken areas that are already hyperpigmented. Wearing a sunscreen is a must.
Pigmentation treatment options include prescription creams to lighten the skin. In addition, there are now several highly effective laser treatments to remove pigment without scarring.