Skin color is influenced by a person’s genetic heritage as well as environmental factors. It is determined by the amount of pigment or melanin that is produced in the skin. The cells manufacturing this pigment are called melanocytes. These cells are found throughout the upper layers of the skin. Natural pigment is nature’s way of protecting the skin from ultraviolet light. A suntan is actually sun damage and does not provide sun protection.
What Causes Pigmentation Disorders?
Uneven pigmentation of the skin may be a natural occurrence or related to ultraviolet light, infection, hormones, drugs, acne or topical chemicals applied to the skin. There are also skin diseases and genetic abnormalities that can cause hyperpigmentation. Common causes of hyperpigmentation include sunspots, freckles, “acne spots” and melasma (pregnancy mask).
What is Melasma?
What are Sunspots?
Finally, post-inflammatory skin darkening is a common occurrence after irritation or injury to the skin. It is more prominent in dark-skin, however, it is also seen in lighter-skin individuals. After irritation or injury to the skin, the pigment cells (melanocytes) deposit pigment in both the upper and lower layers of the skin. This is a condition that usually clears with time, although it can last for months to years. Immediate treatment is important, as this will help determine the outcome and ultimate appearance of the area.