How to Treat Pigmentation on the Face

Pigmentation problems can develop for many reasons. Some people find them on their skin from birth, while for others exposure to chemicals, sunlight and other external factors can cause parts of the skin to overproduce melanin, a skin pigment. When these pigments congeal to one another, pigment spots can develop on the skin. These can also develop later in life in the form of age spots, also sometimes called "liver spots." While most darkened pigmentation poses no risk to your health, you may be interested in fading the pigmentation for cosmetic purposes. Several options are available.

Young woman washing her face (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Step 1

Purchase an over-the-counter (OTC) skin fading cream to treat a light spot on the skin. These topical treatments are not strong, but on light pigmentation marks they can cause fading and, in some cases, eliminate the spot. If you choose this option, the Mayo Clinic recommends you choose a cream containing hydroquinone, deoxyarbutin, kojic acid and/or glycolic acid.

Step 2

Upgrade to a prescription medication if lower-dose treatments prove ineffective. Prescriptions will let you get the medications found in OTC treatments, but in high dosages. Hydroquinone is a common prescription treatment, and this can be used alone or combined with retinoids, according to the Mayo Clinic. Mild steroidal treatments can also help fade pigmentation over the course of several months.

Step 3

Receive a chemical peel treatment from a spa or doctor, or receive one at home using a home chemical peel kit. Chemical peels work by using an acid to burn off the top-layers of your skin and promote new skin cell growth. The new skin cells often grow in without any pigmentation abnormalities. Although chemical peel kits are available for at-home use, the Mayo Clinic recommends receiving these peels only from a trained doctor, since improper application of the peel can lead to scarring on the skin.

Step 4

Consult a doctor to discuss alternative treatment measures for more serious pigmentation problems on the skin. Several options are available when applied by a doctor, such as laser therapy or dermabrasion. Your doctor can help you make the best decision for your skin, based on cost and the severity of your dark pigmentation.

Things You'll Need

  • Fading cream

  • Chemical peel kit


Protect your skin from sunlight when using bleaching treatments, which increase your skin's sensitivity to UV rays. Cover the skin with clothing and/or apply a sunscreen.

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