Melasma Vs. Hyperpigmentation: What’s The Difference?

Melasma Vs. Hyperpigmentation: What’s The Difference?

Hyperpigmentation is characterized by dark patches of skin that generally appear on the face, but the same can be said about melasma. What’s the difference between melasma and hyperpigmentation?

Melasma Vs. Hyperpigmentation

The easiest way to keep these two terms straight is to think of an umbrella. Hyperpigmentation is a general umbrella term that can refer to several different pigment-related skin conditions. That means that melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation, but it’s not necessarily true the other way around.

Here are the most common forms of hyperpigmentation:


Melasma is a chronic skin pigmentation disorder characterized by symmetrical dark patches on your skin, most commonly the face. There are many potential triggers for melasma, each of which stimulates an increased production of melanin (pigment).

Melasma may be small and resemble freckles, or it may develop as large, dark patches with irregular borders.

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Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) refers to the dark spots that develop on the skin after skin injury or inflammation. The inflammation that occurs while a wound is healing causes your body to overproduce melanin, leading to small discolorations. These dark patches will remain on the skin for weeks, months, or sometimes years to go away after the initial skin injury has healed.

PIH can fade on its own with time. You can help accelerate this process by diligently applying sunscreen, wearing UV-protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts or broad-brimmed hats, and avoiding the sun at peak hours of the day (10 am – 2 pm).

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The Skin Quiz

Our Dermatologist worked closely with experts to create a melasma skin quiz that guides you to the best treatments on the market 👇

Age spots

Age spots are small areas of pigment that develop over time with frequent exposure to the sun. As the name suggests, age spots most commonly occur in older individuals. However, anyone can get these spots, particularly those who work or spend a lot of time outdoors.

Age spots can manifest in many different ways, varying in size, color, and shape. They generally appear on the face, shoulders, arms and hands, or back of the neck – all of which are places that are exposed to sunlight the most.

Age spots are also known as:

  • Dark spots
  • Liver spots
  • Solar lentigines
  • Sun spots

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Brandon Kirsch

Brandon Kirsch, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in clinical drug development and medical innovation. He is the founder of Kirsch Dermatology in Naples, Florida and is also the Chief of Dermatology at the Naples Community Hospital. Kirsch Dermatology Website Dr. Kirsch started his career as a lawyer and holds law degrees from the University of Western Ontario (LL.B.) and Georgetown (LL.M. Securities and Financial Regulation). Dr. Kirsch completed his pre-medical studies at the University of Pennsylvania, medical school at Brown University, internship at the Mayo Clinic (Florida) and dermatology residency at the University of North Carolina. In partnership with the Mayo Clinic, he filed to patent a novel topical composition for the treatment of skin hyperpigmentation that he co-developed and also oversaw a successful pilot study of the formulation. Dr. Kirsch has experience with therapeutic drug development programs from pre-clinical to Phase 3 studies. He is licensed to practice medicine in California, Colorado, Florida, and North Carolina and law in New York and Ontario.

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