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Pigmentation means simply colouring. Skin colour results from a pigment in the skin called melanin. Other pigments may colour theskin such as haemoglobin (from blood), bilirubin (from the liver, appears yellow), heavy metals and tattoo ink particles. Melanin is produced in melanocyte cells. Disorders of pigmentation which can appear as too much or too little pigment or pigment in the wrong place can cause significant emotional distress and embarrassment. Skin pigmentation refers to the colouring of our skin from either damage or an excessive production of melanin.

The production of melanin is complex and involves many factors which are not completely understood. UV radiation causes tanning, which is the skin’s protective response to combating further damage by UV radiation.

Pigmentation can be located superficially in the epidermis layer of the skin or deeply in the dermis layer. Certain conditions have a combination of these locations. The location will determine the ease and success of treatments with deep pigmentation being more difficult to treat.

Problems with pigmentation: Pigmentation appears in a number of ways:-

Solar Lentigos are commonly referred to as sun spots or liver spots.  These common brown patches of 1cm diameter typically affect the face and back of the hands in people usually over 50. They are caused by sun exposure, they are associated with an increased risk of melanoma and BCC (skin cancers).

Ephelides or freckles are very common at all ages. More freckles and darker colour appear with increasing sun exposure.

Pigmented contact dermatitis (Riehl’s melanosis) is seen in response to  cosmetic products.

Hyperpigmentation or increased pigmentation can also be caused by burns, scars, skin trauma, skin peels, and medications.

Melasma also known as chloasma or the “mask of pregnancy” is a significant and complex form of pigmentation that can be difficult to understand and treat.  Please refer to section on Melasma.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) post-inflammatory pigment alteration (PIPA) occurs with conditions such as acne, eczema, and allergic reactions  following burns, surgeries, and trauma or treatments such as chemical peels and laser resurfacing. It is due to increased melanin production in response to skin insult.This type of pigmentation can be difficult to treatand can may recur. Careful non irritating treatments are needed, combined with sunscreen as well as avoiding the sun. They usually improve with time.

The causes of pigmentation vary between individuals. The natural protective response of the skin to UV exposure is to produce melanin and darken the skin. Excess and abnormal pigmentation is caused by excess sun exposure and other factors such as trauma, chemicals, genetics and even stress play a role.

The key to successful treatment of abnormal pigmentation is to establish the cause if possible. Identification of the type of pigmentation is important as this will guide selection of the most useful treatments. A realistic and gentle approach is vital as is patience because treatments often take time to be effective. Avoidance of the sun and sunscreen use are essential to prevent further skin damage and pigmentation.

The following treatments are available at Le Sands Clinic in the treatment of pigmentation.

Pigmentation is a complex problem and the causes and correct treatments needed vary between individuals. The incorrect treatment may make the problem worse. The team at Le Sands Clinic are skilled in the assessment and management of skin pigmentation. Allow us to design an individualised programme to help you achieve your goal of clear skin into the future. Contact the clinic for an initial free consultation with one of our skin care experts. Call 02 9567 0399 or email us

Call us on 02 9567 0399 or e-mail us on

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