Top 4 pigmentation treatments

Pigmentation issues present as patches of a lighter or darker colour than the surrounding skin. They differ in size and shape, from tiny dots and blemishes to broader marks and stains.

In most cases, pigmentation is only an aesthetic issue. Rarely, however, it may indicate the presence of an underlying medical condition or skin malignancy.

For that reason, it is best to see a doctor and check all new pigmentary changes on your skin. Modern science offers a variety of safe and simple treatments which can improve both the physical appearance and the health of your skin.

Common causes of skin pigmentation

Excess production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its colour, is the cause of most pigmentary changes. When melanin production increases locally, that part of the skin usually becomes darker.

Different factors may cause melanin production surge. The common ones are:

  • Ethnic origin
  • Number of melanocytes (melanin-producing cells)
  • Age
  • Level of sun exposure
  • Acne proneness
  • Skin trauma
  • Allergic reactions
  • Underlying conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or lichen planus

Available treatments for pigmentation

While there are some over-the-counter face creams, retinoids, and face acids that you can try at home, the best way to treat pigmentary changes is to see a skin doctor first.

That's how you can be sure of the benign nature of the particular changes you're seeing. It will also grant you access to more potent prescription creams, retinoids, or hydroquinone.

All professional treatments are minimally invasive. The best ones include:

1. Chemical peels

Acids at varying concentrations remove skin layers to boost the natural regenerative cycle. As a result, new skin layers form free of imperfections. Learn more.

One medical-grade peel option is Cosmelan depigmentation therapy - one of the only effective treatments for melasma - that uses high-strength formulations applied in-centre to draw unwanted pigment to the surface of your skin and shed it away, revealing a brighter and more even complexion. The treatment follows a multi-step approach including at-home skin preparations. Learn more.

2. Laser skin resurfacing

Laser light removes layers of the skin to provoke a healing response. Learn more.

3. Intense Pulse Light Therapy (IPL)

Pulses of light energy specifically target and destroy melanin within the pigmentary formation. Learn more.

4. Microdermabrasion

Mechanical removal of the outermost skin layer together with the superficial signs of pigmentation using an abrasive tool. Learn more.

The bottom line

In most cases, pigmentary changes are not a cause for worry. They are the skin's natural reaction to age-related and environmental damage. But, even if you only have aesthetic motifs, you should let a skin specialist inspect them and help you choose the best treatment.

If you would like to speak to a Doctor or Dermal Clinician about your skin concerns, please call us or book your appointment online.



Lin JY, Fisher DE. Melanocyte biology and skin pigmentation. Nature. 2007;445(7130):843-850. doi:10.1038/nature05660

Borelli C, Fischer S. Chemical Peelings zur Behandlung von Melasma, Pigmentstörungen und Hyperpigmentierungen : Indikationen, Effektivität und Risiken [Chemical peeling for treatment of Melasma, pigmentary disorders and hyperpigmentation : Indications, effectivity and risks]. Hautarzt. 2020;71(12):950-959. doi:10.1007/s00105-020-04712-1

Trivedi MK, Yang FC, Cho BK. A review of laser and light therapy in melasma. Int J Womens Dermatol. 2017;3(1):11-20. Published 2017 Mar 21. doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2017.01.004

Written by National Skin Cancer Centres