Hyperpigmentation is a common, usually harmless condition in which patches of skin become darker in colour than the normal surrounding skin. This darkening occurs when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin colour, forms deposits in the skin. Hyperpigmentation can affect any skin colour.
Age or “liver” spots are a common form of hyperpigmentation which occur due to sun damage. These small, darkened patches are usually found on the hands and face or other areas frequently exposed to the sun.
Melasma or chloasma spots are similar in appearance to age spots but are larger areas of darkened skin that appear most often as a result of hormonal changes. Pregnancy, for example, can trigger overproduction of melanin that causes the “mask of pregnancy” on the face and darkened skin on the abdomen and other areas.
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.