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Acne scarring, sun damage and other types of inflammation can leave you self-conscious and feeling less than your best self. However, hyperpigmentation, a term that refers to a skin condition in which the skin is discolored or darkened from inflammation, can be brought on by a number of factors, some of which are out of our control.

But, as it turns out, there’s also a type of hyperpigmentation that many people are unfamiliar with. This type is melasma, and it’s a pigmentary condition that affects millions of Americans, mostly women. Much like the common types of hyperpigmentation we know well, melasma appears in the form of discoloration on the skin and is worsened by exposure to the sun, even if for short periods. But, there are actually several differences that set it apart from common types of hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation

  • any darkening of the skin
  • freckles
  • sun spots
  • eczema
  • psoriasis

Melasma

  • UV exposure
  • hormones
  • symmetric blotchy hyperpigmented patches
  • can appear during pregnancy 

A treatment that works for one person might not have the same results in another. A combination of sunscreen, brightening ingredients, and laser treatments tend to work best for melasma whereas chemical peels and lasers are best for hyperpigmentation.

Everyone’s experience will be unique, and no treatment plan will be 100 percent perfect or work the same way for all people. However, you can’t correct or prevent either without sun protection. Hyperpigmentation and melasma happen, but with the proper precaution, both of them can be avoided.