Unlike a problematic family member, hyperpigmentation does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone, no matter your skin type or tone, and pop up just about anywhere: on your face, your chest, your hands, your knees, and even your underarms.
Still, while hyperpigmentation is common, not all dark spots are created equal. Dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD, previously told POPSUGAR that there are two main types to note: post-inflammatory erythema (which manifests as brown or red spots from inflammation by trauma to the skin, like damaged capillaries or blood vessels) and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (the dark pigment that comes from inflammation from a pimple, although not to be confused with acne scarring).
"Acne marks are red or brown discolored marks that are temporary, taking just a few months to fade and heal," New York City aesthetician Taylor Worden said. Still, Dr. Henry said, "You can very well have both. The key to knowing which one it is depends on the color of the mark. It is harder to see [erythema] on dark skin than [post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation]."
When considering treatment, it's important to identify any changes you've made in your routine, any experiences with eczema or contact dermatitis, or any recent traumas you may have made to the skin - because the fact is, hyperpigmentation can be the byproduct of multiple things. It could be that you picked at a breakout or spent too much time outside in the sun. "Melasma is another type of pigmentation related to hormones, commonly found on upper lip or cheeks or forehead on women during and after pregnancy, with oral contraception use, or even with menopause," said dermatologist Shari Sperling, DO.
The point is: dark spots and hyperpigmentation happen, but that doesn't mean you have to live with them forever. Keep reading as we break down the must-know tips to treating this common skin concern.
- Additional reporting by Danielle Jackson, Natasha Marsh, and Aimee Simeon