Dark Skin

Skin Conditions

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Dark Skin


Hyperpigmentation, or dark skin, is the darkening of an area of skin or nails caused by increased melanin. Hyperpigmentation may be caused by sun damage, inflammation, or other skin injuries, including those related to acne vulgaris. People with darker Asian, east Indian, middle Eastern, Hispanic, or African skin tones are also more prone to hyperpigmentation especially if they have excess sun exposure.

Hyperpigmentation is also associated with a number of diseases or conditions, including:

  • Addison's disease and other sources of adrenal insufficiency, in which hormones that stimulate melanin synthesis (e.g. MSH) are frequently elevated.
  • acanthosis nigricans, or hyperpigmentation of intertriginous areas associated with insulin resistance.
  • chloasma, or patchy hyperpigmentation often found in pregnant women
  • linea nigra, a hyperpigmented line found on the abdomen during pregnancy
  • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by hyperpigmented macules on the lips and oral mucosa and gastrointestinal polyps.
  • Certain chemicals such as salicylic acid.


Treatment of hyperpigmentation may include hydroquinone, kojic acid, azelaic acid, ascorbic acid, tretinoin (Retinol), topical glucocorticoids, and licorice extract. Note that all treatments will fail if the affected area is exposed to the sun and if there is not adequate UVA/UVB protection.

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