Don’t worry, you’re not the only one that’s itching to know. Those dark, pesky spots probably have lived in your skin rent-free, longer than you can tolerate. Well, hyperpigmentation usually goes away on its own—but when?
How long does it take for hyperpigmentation to fade?
Depending on your skin type and what causes the hyperpigmentation, it usually fades over the course of a few months to a year. Sometimes it takes years, and some people never get rid of it.
All that being said, there are ways to clear dark spots off your skin. In this post, we’re going to uncover the different causes of hyperpigmentation and how long it takes for each one to vanish. We’ll also delve into different treatments and skin care products to help you achieve a healthy, glowing complexion.
Causes of Hyperpigmentation
It is common among people with medium to dark skin tones to develop hyperpigmentation. If you are a person of color, your skin’s pigment cells produce more melanin. It is the natural pigment that protects your skin from sunburns and harmful UV rays.
But, when there’s overproduction of melanin, it can cause unwanted dark pigments on the skin.
That said, anyone, including lighter skin tones, can also develop hyperpigmentation. This is because hyperpigmentation can come from different triggers. The color contrast between the pigments and your natural skin tone will also affect how long it will take to fade.
Hyperpigmentation can be caused by a range of factors, including:
- UV light from excessive sun exposure
- Hormonal influences, particularly during pregnancy
- Certain medications/pills (birth control pills, antiepileptics, etc.)
- Skin injuries or inflammation from cuts, wounds, burns, and skincare products
- Thyroid issues
If you want to know how to manage hyperpigmentation and the best treatment options, you must first understand what causes it. Here are some of the most common skin hyperpigmentation conditions.
PIH or Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a “pseudo scarring” that occurs when there’s injury on the skin. An example of this is the darkening you get after your acne, eczema, or psoriasis has healed. You can also get them from burns caused by chemical peels, sunburn, and microdermabrasion.
The skin produces excess melanin as part of its natural response to the inflammation. It can develop on all skin types and can appear as purple, red, brown, or black pigments.
PIH usually fades on its own. It can take several weeks or months. However, it will take longer to fade for people with medium to dark complexions. How well you care for your skin also affects the fading process. So be diligent with your skincare and don’t pick your skin.
Also referred to as “pregnancy mask,” melasma is characterized by dark-gray brown symmetrical patches on the skin. It is a type of hyperpigmentation that commonly affects women due to hormonal changes. However, it can also be triggered by excessive sun exposure, certain medications, thyroid issues, stress, and genetics.
Due to the many factors that cause melasma, it is notoriously hard to treat. The treatment for melasma is multi-pronged and combines different cosmetic procedures and topical therapies.
If the cause of melasma is pregnancy pills, it can fade on its own. It can also fade away after a woman with melasma gives birth. However, in some cases, it can take a very long time. Some patients have them for years and don’t seem to fade away.
Treating melasma requires long-term commitment and it can be hard to maintain. But if you stick to the treatment, you should notice improvements in 3 to 12 months. For melasma that’s been on your skin for longer, it can take years.
Age Spots or Sun Spots
Age spots, sunspots, or solar lentigines. Sunspots are caused by repeated exposure to the sun. They appear as tan to dark splotches with varying sizes that could start as tiny as freckles and grow bigger.
Sunspots usually fade on their own. However, some of them may linger on your skin forever if your skin has been permanently damaged. It can take 6 to 12 months for sunspots to fade if the pigments are only a few shades darker than your natural complexion. For deeper colored spots, it can take years.
Treatments for Hyperpigmentation According to Dermatologists
Depending on the type of pigmentation you have, treatment will vary. Dermatologists often offer cosmetic procedures such as chemical peels, laser therapy, and light-based treatment. Each treatment involves different techniques. Some of them may not be suitable for your skin type.
It’s always best to consult with a skincare specialist or dermatologist. This way, you’ll know which treatment suits you best. It also helps you understand the process and discuss potential side effects.
Skin Care Products for Fading Dark Spots
Hyperpigmentations behave differently on individual skin types and shades. Some take only several weeks to fade, while others take longer. Fortunately, there are skincare products available to speed up the fading process. The next time you shop for skincare, look for these products:
- Hydroquinone – skin-lightening agent that inhibits the production of melanin
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) – glycolic acid and lactic acid; sloughs off dead skin, fading dark spots
- Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) – common form is salicylic acid; penetrates oil-filled pores and helps target acne marks
- Topical retinoids – promote skin cell turnover, improving pigments and texture
- Azelaic acid – targets dark spots, inhibits melanin production, and encourages skin cell turnover
Keep in mind that some of these products require a prescription. But you’ll find them in many skin care products on the market.
Harness the Power of SPF
The sun is one of the main causes of hyperpigmentation. We can’t avoid it and it’s part of our daily life. Wearing sunscreen makes a lot of the best ways to protect our skin from harmful UV rays. A broad-spectrum sun protection factor of 30 or higher is recommended.
For darker skin tones, there is a wide range of products of SPF that don’t leave an ashy residue or white cast. You’ll also find sunscreens with moisturizing and skin-loving ingredients.
Sunscreen is just a great must-have in any skincare. It’s a great preventative measure against hyperpigmentation and sun damage. Plus, it helps minimize premature aging.
Will Hyperpigmentation Go Away on Its Own?
Hyperpigmentation usually goes away on its own, but it will still depend on the cause. Melasma, for example, is incredibly hard to treat. But with proper treatment and consistency, it should fade off eventually.
Skin discolorations can have a serious impact on one’s confidence. And how long they will fade usually depends on the cause of the pigments and your skin type and shades. If you have stubborn pigments that seem to have made your skin their permanent home, consult with your derm.
Remember to always wear your sunscreen, whether you’re indoors or outdoors, sunny or not. A broad spectrum of sun protection factor of 30 will do. It will give you a good layer of protection and can help with controlling hyperpigmentation.
But know that hyperpigmentation is normal and you’ll eventually get the best skin. Be patient and use the right skincare products and you will eventually achieve a radiant complexion.
If you have more questions about hyperpigmentation, let us know and we’ll gladly help you. Thanks for reading!