Skin Pigmentation: Causes & Solutions

Sebastiano Accaputo
September 12, 2022

Skin Pigmentation: Causes And Solutions

For many people, the appearance of pigmentation spots on the skin of the face is a cause for embarrassment and concern. But why are they formed?

A very common problem, especially among women, is that of the appearance of darker areas on the skin of the face. These are skin blemishes attributable in most cases to a dysfunction in the production of melanin and which most commonly appear on the cheeks, forehead, upper lip, nose and chin.

Spots On The Skin Of The Face

The spots on the skin of the face are generally divided into:

- melasma: they appear as more or less extensive dark spots with an irregular distribution, with jagged edges and in different colors;

- solar lentigo: they appear as rounded, hazelnut-yellow macules, located in the most exposed areas, in some cases imperceptible in other cases extensive and well evident;

- senile lentigos: they appear in conjunction with advancing age with a brown color with a rounded shape. They are not reversible spots but it is possible to reduce their size.

Why Do Pigmentation Spots Appear On The Skin?

The main causes that trigger the appearance of Skin Pigmentation on the face are:

- excessive exposure to UV radiation: sunlight (but also artificial light from tanning lamps) stimulates the production of melanin and hyperpigmentation in the most exposed parts of the body, such as the face;

- hormonal changes: during pregnancy, for example, there is an increase in estrogen and progesterone which makes the woman more susceptible to developing melasma. The same conditions could occur in those taking birth control pills, those on hormone therapy, in menopause, or with liver problems;

- skin inflammation: some irritating chemicals found in some perfumes or cosmetics in general may also promote the appearance of blemishes on the skin of the face. These spots, therefore, are due to the irritation and consequent inflammation that is generated on the skin of the face following contact with these substances.

- some drugs: antiepileptics and some drugs including antibiotics, NSAIDs, diuretics, are phototoxic and make the skin more sensitive to sunlight.

Furthermore, it is necessary to keep in mind some predisposing genetic factors such as having a dark phototype or cases of familiarity.

How To Improve Skin Pigmentation

The treatment of spots on the skin of the face varies according to the cause that caused them. In the event that the spots on the skin of the face are caused by pathologies, for example, the treatment of the latter can lead to the resolution or improvement of the skin pigmentation disorder.

There are several aesthetic treatments available that can be useful in eliminating or significantly reducing hyperpigmented areas.

The depigmenting and lightening cosmetics are able to express their action by stimulating the cell turnover of the skin that has taken on a different color and, sometimes, helping to hinder the synthesis of the melanic pigment. However, in order for these cosmetics to exert their action, their use must be continuous over time.

Substances such as hydroquinone, citric acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid, retinoic acid, azelaic acid, a-tocopherol, kojic acid and ascorbic acid are suitable for depigmenting agents. These ingredients can be incorporated into cosmetics used to help reduce dark spots on the skin.

If the use of the aforementioned cosmetics is not sufficient to eliminate skin spots on the skin of the face, it is possible to resort to different types of aesthetic treatments that allow the removal - more or less deep - of the superficial layers of the skin, in order to eliminate the skin areas characterized by altered pigmentation. Among these we remember:

  • Microneedling
  • Chemical peels
  • LED Light Therapy
  • Laser treatments
  • Microdermabrasion


In most cases, rather than intervening on already formed spots, it would be better - where and when possible - to resort to preventive strategies, in order to prevent their possible onset.

For example, sunspots caused by the sun can be prevented by using cosmetics with high protection against UV rays: it is advisable to apply sun cosmetics not only in the summer months, but throughout the year, since ultraviolet radiation is always present.