7 health conditions that can cause hyperpigmentation

Skin, the largest organ of the human body, is a mirror of your health. So whenever something goes wrong inside, it eventually starts reflecting on the skin. One such sign is hyperpigmentation, a sign from your skin that all is not well within your body. Hyperpigmentation is a dermatological condition when the getting discoloured and darkened in places. It is mainly caused due to the overproduction of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its colour. Although it is usually associated with ageing, hyperpigmentation may usually point towards an underlying health condition. Here are some of the health problems that could cause hyperpigmentation.

Acne: After the pimple dries out, it could leave a dark brown spot in its place. In some cases, the hyperpigmented spot could also be purple or red in colour. This is called postinflammatory hyperpigmentation where the spot develops in response to an injury or inflammatory disease on the skin.1 Here are some good habits that will improve your acne.

Atopic dermatitis or eczema: In this condition, your skin and turn dry and itchy. It’s an inflammatory skin disorder that causes irritation and redness of the skin. One of the common consequences of eczema is hyperpigmentation where the lesions once were.1

Hormonal imbalance: One of the commonest manifestations of hormonal imbalance on the skin is melasma or dark brown spots on the skin. In pregnant women, the hormonal fluctuations cause hyperpigmented spots on the skin. The imbalance of hormones during pregnancy also results in linea negra, a hyperpigmented line on the stomach.2 Did you know these signs of hormonal imbalance?

B12 deficiency: Those on a strict vegan diet sometimes experience skin problems, one of which is hyperpigmentation. That’s because plant-based foods are deficient in the vital vitamin B 12. When there is a deficiency of this vital micronutrient, the skin starts darkening unnaturally.3 Here are some everyday habits that cause vitamin b12 deficiency.

Folic acid deficiency: Hyperpigmentation could also result from a folic acid deficiency. If your diet doesn’t have enough folate, a type of B vitamin whose bioavailable form is called folic acid. The deficiency of this vital nutrient has been named as a cause of hyperpigmentation.3 Here are some best sources of folic acid.

Addison’s disease: Hyperpigmentation is a classic symptom of Addison’s disease, an endocrine disorder in which the adrenal glands fails to produce steroid hormone. The disease causes darkening of the skin in certain areas.4

Cushing’s syndrome: The abnormal amount of cortisol in the human body causes a condition known as the Cushing’s syndrome. And one of the symptoms of the disorder is hyperpigmentation of the skin.5


1. Davis, E. C., & Callender, V. D. (2010). Postinflammatory Hyperpigmentation: A Review of the Epidemiology, Clinical Features, and Treatment Options in Skin of Color. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 3(7), 20—31.
2.Hall, P. P. (1969). The influence of hormones on melanogenesis. Australasian Journal of Dermatology, 10(3), 125-139.
3.Desai, S. R. (2014). Hyperpigmentation Therapy: A Review. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 7(8), 13—17.
4.Sarkar, S. B., Sarkar, S., Ghosh, S., & Bandyopadhyay, S. (2012). Addison’s disease. Contemporary Clinical Dentistry, 3(4), 484—486. http://doi.org/10.4103/0976-237X.107450
5.Mason, A. S., & Greenbaum, D. (1962). Cushing’s Syndrome and Skin Pigmentation. British Medical Journal, 2(5302), 445—448.

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