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Pigmentation describes a range of conditions where the skin becomes blotchy or discoloured. Pigmentation can be caused by hormonal factors, skin trauma and excessive sun exposure.
Skin pigments are the biological substances that produce skin colour. The main determinant of visible differences in skin colour is brown pigment which is known as melanin.
If you have an abnormal excess of melanin then you have a condition called hyperpigmentation (which is commonly just called pigmentation).The excess melanin may be in the outer (epidermal) or inner (dermal) layers of the skin. The two commonest pigmentation disorders are post-inflammatory pigmentation and melasma.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is where dark patches of skin appear after something has caused skin inflammation. This can be caused by skin conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis and acne or by skin trauma from things such as accidental injury or following skin treatment with things such as chemical peels, waxing or electrolysis.
Melasma is a common condition that primarily occurs in women of childbearing age. Both sun exposure and hormonal factors contribute. It appears on sun exposed areas of the skin especially the face but also the forearms.