Conventional Treatments for Hyperpigmentation

You can choose to either treat hyperpigmentation on your own at home using over-the-counter (OTC) products or by visiting a dermatologist for more intensive treatments.

There are many different topical hyperpigmentation treatments and skin care products available made with a number of active chemical ingredients that help to lighten and brighten skin. Some of the ingredients found in creams, serums, peels and lotions that serve as hyperpigmentation treatments include:

Hydroquinone (around 2 percent concentration), which can help to reduce existing dark spots and discoloration and possibly prevent them from developing in the future. Creams containing hydroquinone are also said to make skin softer and smoother (note that they should not be used by women who are pregnant).

Depigmentation peel, a product which is often used to treat melasma.

Salicylic or glycolic acid, which are used in chemical peels.

Retinol, also called Retin-A, which is usually applied in extract or serum form and considered one of the dermatology’s “gold standard treatments.”

Other hyperpigmentation treatments that can be performed by a dermatologist include:

Microdermabrasion, which removes the uppermost superficial layer of skin and can also be used in conjunction with injections that help lighten dark spots.

Chemical peels, using ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid and TCA which help to remove dark pigments below the surface of the skin. These are popular types of hyperpigmentation acne treatments, but they can be strong and are not always a good choice for people with sensitive skin.

Hyperpigmentation laser treatments, which target blood vessels underneath the skin to remove discoloration. These can include red or blue light laser treatment, intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments to decrease sun damage or fractional laser resurfacing to help resolve very serious discoloration. Milder laser treatments work just on the skin’s epidermis, while more intense treatments penetrate deeper to the dermis and other layers. Even though they can be very effective, the downside to these treatments is that they can also be expensive and cause reactions such as irritation, peeling and redness.