There are 5 main factors that cause hyper-pigmentation or brown spots, age spots, dark spots.


The sun is the major cause of hyper-pigmentation or dark spots. UV directly stimulates the protection of melanin. Melanin is your body’s way of protecting itself from UV. Excess sun exposure causes age spots or brown spots.

2- Irritation, Inflammation & Trauma

Have you noticed a dark spot after a healing pimple or discoloration from a scar? This is post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. Irritation to the skin can cause inflamation. DNA damage caused by inflammation activates the genes for melanin production. The injury causes an increase in pigmentation and scarring.

Irritation can come from many sources – too much pressure (from massage or incorrect extraction technique),  skin trauma or wounds, unprofessional laser treatments , over-exfoliation, even spicy foods and inflammatory diseases such as eczema.

3- Hormones

Changes in the balance of reproductive hormones (estrogen, progesterone) and stress hormones can cause hyper-pigmentation. This is the hardest kind to treat, because there is a ‘hidden’ factor behind the hyper-pigmentation or brown spots.

4- Chemicals

Certain chemicals can trigger a melanocyte to produce melanin. Artificial fragrance is a big one. Oxidized ingredients also cause brown spots. Pure Vitamin C is a perfect example – it oxidizes extremely fast, unless it has been correctly formulated (hard to find).

5. Medications

Certain drugs (anti-malarial, cancer, others) as well as heavy metals may cause dark spots too.

If melanin is produced in high concentrations or becomes “clumped”, they form age spots or brown spots.  These dark spots are not dangerous and can be removed.

Methods of removal at Nell Clinic:

  • Laser
  • Cauterization (electrocoagulation)

Call for a complimentary consultation: 416-228-0011.