Pigmentation is a very common skin concern, affecting millions of people regardless of age or skin type. People living in sunny areas like Singapore have a higher risk of developing pigmentation of the skin. The good news is that most cases of pigmentation can be adequately removed through laser treatments which restore your skin’s natural, flawless glow.

What is pigmentation?

Skin pigmentation, also known as dyschromia, commonly occurs due to the overproduction of the pigment melanin in the skin. Melanin is the most important pigment in human skin. It gives color to the skin, hair, and eyes. Abnormal levels of melanin can cause hypo- or hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. Pigmentation on noticeable areas such as the cheeks, nose, and chin could be really frustrating ang may affect your self-esteem.

What causes pigmentation?

Sun exposure

For many patients, skin pigmentation is mainly due to prolonged sun exposure. The harmful UV rays from the sun causes skin darkening by inducing chemical changes in melanin and activating the production of new melanin. This results in dark spots in the skin.


Your genes also play a big role whether you would develop pigmentation or not. Research studies have proven that certain genes control the production of melanin. Some genes can even cause the appearance of freckles and nevus. If your family members or relatives tend to have skin pigmentation issues, it is highly likely that your pigmentation is due to your natural genetic makeup.

Hormonal changes

Changes in hormone levels can cause noticeable skin pigmentation known as chloasma or melasma. This skin condition, which typically appears as large dark spots on the face, is very common among pregnant women. Hormones such as estrogen and progesterone induce the increased production of melanin. Women taking oral contraceptives also experience hormonal changes and thus are also at risk of having melasma.


Age spots, also known as sun spots, are mainly caused by sun exposure. However, aging contributes greatly in the development of these pigment spots. As we age, the cells that produce melanin, known as melanocytes, decrease in number. The remaining melanocytes become bigger and produce more melanin in specific areas of the face, resulting in the more noticeable appearance of age spots.

Other medical conditions

Other medical conditions such as inflammation, wounds, burns, metabolic diseases, vitamin deficiencies, and gastrointestinal diseases can also cause increased melanin production. Medications such as antibiotics, anti-seizure drugs, antimalarials, and chemotherapy drugs can also cause skin pigmentation.

Types of Pigmentation


Freckles are small round brown spots on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, and shoulders. Increased and prolonged exposure to the sun can trigger the appearance and further darkening of freckles.


Melasma, also known as chloasma, is common among middle-aged Asian women, especially pregnant women. Melasma occurs as brown or grey patches on the cheeks. Different factors can cause the development of melasma, including hormonal imbalance, sun exposure, aging skin, and genetics.

Solar Lentigo

Solar lentigo resemble freckles but tend to be larger in size. Exposure to the UV rays of the sun can cause solar lentigo. Hence, the most common sites of solar lentigo are the chronically sun-exposed areas, such as the face, hands, or legs.

Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH, is described as brown spots that occur due to increased melanin production in response to skin injury. PIH can be noted after the skin heals from sunburn, chemical burns, infections, and inflammatory skin conditions such as acne or eczema. In most cases, PIH is only temporary and resolves completely with early treatment.

Hori’s Nevus

Commonly known as a birthmark, Hori’s nevus appears as pigment spots or a cluster of bluish-grey patch on the cheeks, forehead, or nose. This type of pigmentation is typically hereditary and often seen in middle-aged Asian women. Hori’s nevus may occur with melasma.

Nevus of Ota

Nevus of Ota is another common pigmentation that resembles a birthmark. It is usually benign and appears as a bluish-grey pigmentation on the skin. The Nevus of Ota can be noted around the regions of the eye, temple, cheeks, nose, and forehead.

How can pigmentation be removed?

New laser technologies, together with established medical treatments, can effectively remove most pigmentation issues. As there are different types of pigmentation concerns, the treatment approach differs from one patient to another. It is recommended that you consult with your doctor regarding the specific skin treatment that is most suitable for you.

We list here the treatment modalities that are available for pigmentation removal:

Pico Laser

Pico Laser is the most advanced laser technology that has the ability to remove pigmentation for a smoother, brighter, healthy skin. The Pico Laser works by releasing specific wavelengths of energy which break down the chunks of melanin that cause dark spots and patches. The broken fragments are then naturally flushed out by the body’s excretory system.

Aside from pigmentation, the Pico Laser can also efficiently target and treat other common skin concerns, such as fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin texture. The result is a healthy, young-looking, glowing skin.

Topical Creams

Medical-grade topical creams for pigmentation removal are also available and may be prescribed to you by your skin doctor. In some patients, topical creams are given together with laser treatments to effectively remove pigmentation.

Oral Medications and Supplements

Oral medications and supplements can also help address skin pigmentation. Medications such as tranexamic acid work by suppressing the production of melanin in your skin. Supplements that contain L-cysteine and carotenoids can also reduce pigmentation. These supplements protect your skin from photodamage, correct uneven skin tone, and improve the overall health and integrity of the skin.

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