Pigmentation problems on the neck can be unsightly and difficult to conceal. They can occur due to numerous reasons and conditions—some that must be treated by a doctor or dermatologist. Therefore, it is important to understand what causes changes in the color of skin and how it can be treated.
Pigmentation on the neck can appear as patches of skin that are darker in shade than the rest of the skin on the neck and body. These pigmentation changes develop as the result of an excess amount of melanin, which is what gives the skin its color. Pigmentation problems can occur in anyone—no matter the age, sex or racial background. Although they can develop on the neck, pigmentation issues can also occur anywhere on the face and body.
The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology notes that pigmentation problems on the neck can occur for a variety of reasons. Age spots, which commonly occur on the neck, can develop as the result of frequent direct sun exposure. Hormonal fluctuations can cause darkened skin spots called melasma to develop. Pigmentation problems can also occur as acne heals or as the result of physical injury to the neck. Groups of pigmented freckles can also crop up on neck.
A dermatologist can help treat pigmentation problems on the neck with a chemical peel or dermabrasion procedure. With a chemical peel, a doctor applies a chemical solution to the skin, causing the pigmented skin to peel off. A dermabrasion procedure sands away the damaged skin. There are also over-the-counter and prescription strength bleaching creams that contain hydroquinone. These creams work gradually and can take three to six weeks before noticeable improvement is evident.
Pigmentation problems can darken or become more evident with even just one day of excess sun exposure. This is because the melanin in the skin absorbs the ultraviolet sun rays, which can darken the pigmented areas on the neck. To combat this, always wear a sunscreen when going outside, even if it is overcast outside. Make sure that it is labeled “broad spectrum,” which means it shields both UVB and UVA rays.
The MedlinePlus website suggests contacting a dermatologist or doctor if pigmentation problems on the neck are irritating, do not go away or occur without a reason. In addition, seek medical attention if pigmentation complications are accompanied by sores or lesions on the skin that change in color, size or shape. This could be a sign of a serious medical problem like skin cancer.