What Causes Skin Pigmentation & Can They Be Removed?

What Causes Skin Pigmentation & Can They Be Removed?

Skin pigmentation is a common concern for many individuals, impacting people with various skin types and backgrounds. For those who are unfamiliar, skin pigmentation refers to the abnormal lightening or darkening of your skin. It is a fairly common skin condition that may affect both men and women alike. While some embrace their natural skin tones, others seek ways to reduce or eliminate skin pigmentation for cosmetic or medical reasons.

Below, we will explore the causes of skin pigmentation and discuss the available treatments that can help manage this condition.

What is Skin Pigmentation?

Before we move on to the causes of skin pigmentation, let’s take a closer look at what this condition implies. Skin pigmentation refers to the colour of a person’s skin, determined by the presence and distribution of melanin – the pigment responsible for skin, hair, and eye colour. Melanin is produced by melanocytes, specialised cells located in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. The amount and type of melanin in your skin are determined by genetics, exposure to sunlight, and hormonal factors.

Causes of Skin Pigmentation

Several factors contribute to skin pigmentation, with each playing a distinct role in its development:

1. Sun exposure

Excessive sun exposure is a significant cause of skin pigmentation. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun stimulate melanocytes to produce more melanin, resulting in tanned or pigmented skin. Prolonged sun exposure without adequate protection can lead to sunspots and uneven pigmentation.

2. Genetics

Genetic factors influence the type and amount of melanin your body produces. Individuals with a family history of skin pigmentation issues are more likely to develop similar conditions themselves. Certain individuals have a genetic inclination toward skin pigmentation, which may result in freckles and birthmarks. Typically, these forms of skin pigmentation pose no harm.

3. Hormones

Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during pregnancy, birth control pill usage, or hormone replacement therapy, can cause an increase in melanin production, leading to skin pigmentation changes. Hormonal changes affect all areas of the body, including the skin. Melasma, a form of skin pigmentation that develops during pregnancy, is a particularly typical case. Melasma is characterised by dark areas on the cheeks, forehead, forearms, and upper lip. Melasma brought on by pregnancy is completely safe and usually goes away after a few months.

4. Inflammatory conditions

Irritated or damaged skin cells tend to preact by producing a high level of melanin. This process is commonly referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Skin inflammation can be brought on by eczema, acne and psoriasis but can also be the result of damage to the skin.

5. Ageing

As we age, our skin undergoes various changes, including alterations in melanin distribution. Age spots, also known as liver spots, are flat, brown, grey, or black spots that develop in sun-exposed areas due to ageing and prolonged sun exposure.

Is it possible to remove skin pigmentation?

While complete removal of skin pigmentation may not always be possible, there are several treatments available that can significantly reduce its appearance:

1. Pico Laser Treatment

Pico laser treatments in Singapore offer an advanced solution for various pigmentation issues. Using ultrashort pulses, Pico laser breaks down pigments into smaller particles, effectively treating freckles, sunspots, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Unlike traditional lasers, Pico laser’s rapid pulses exert a photoacoustic effect, eliminating pigments without overheating surrounding tissues.

2. Topical Creams

Topical creams containing ingredients like hydroquinone, kojic acid, retinoids, or corticosteroids can help lighten hyperpigmented areas of the skin. These creams work by inhibiting melanin production or promoting skin cell turnover, leading to a more even skin tone over time. It’s crucial to consult a dermatologist before using any topical treatments to ensure they are suitable for your skin type and condition.

3. Regular Check-ups

Regular check-ups with a dermatologist are essential for monitoring any changes in your skin pigmentation. Early detection of skin conditions can lead to more effective treatments and better outcomes. Dermatologists can recommend personalised treatments based on the specific cause and severity of your skin pigmentation issues.


Skin pigmentation is a complex issue influenced by various factors. While complete removal might not always be possible, advancements in dermatological treatments offer effective solutions for managing and reducing skin pigmentation. Pico laser treatments and topical creams, along with regular check-ups with a dermatologist, can significantly improve the appearance of hyperpigmented areas. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and skin type, ensuring safe and satisfactory results.

At APAX Medical & Aesthetics Clinic, we provide Pico Laser treatments to help alleviate your skin pigmentation issues. Aside from skin pigmentation, our clinic provides an array of services for numerous dermatological conditions, acne scar removal treatments, and more. Consider visiting our Hougang aesthetic clinic, located near  Kovan MRT station or our Woodlands aesthetics medical clinic at Bukit Panjang MRT.

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