Many forms of hyperpigmentation are caused by excessive production of melanin within the skin. Melanin is the pigmentation that gives colour to our eyes, hair and to our skin, and so it follows that when too much is produced, it creates darker patches, requiring pigmentation treatment.

Causes of hyperpigmentation include:

• Sun damage. Melanin is produced when the skin is exposed to the sun and is a natural protective response to harmful UV rays.

• Inflammation can also cause changes to pigmentation. Once the inflammation has subsided, the skin can appear reddened for a period of time.

• Acne causes damage to the skin, as it can cause both inflammation and infection.

• Skin lightening lotions. Those that contain mercury are particularly dangerous, as the mercury is absorbed into the bloodstream and cause serious damage, as well as skin discolouration.

• Cushing’s disease is a hormone disorder characterised by an excess of cortisol.

• Melasma, or chloasma, is the patchy pigmentation sometimes affecting pregnant women’s faces. Pregnancy can also cause a hyperpigmented line to form on the abdomen, which is known as Linea nigra.