Understanding Pigmentation Disorders

By Northside Dermatology
Published on June 5, 2024


At Northside Dermatology in Melbourne, we understand that each person’s skin tells a unique story. From the freckles that sprinkle across cheeks to the birthmarks that punctuate arms, our skin narrates our individuality. However, for many individuals, pigmentation can be an issue, causing distress and impacting self-esteem. 


What are the different types of pigmentation?

Pigmentation can be caused by a number of conditions that influence the colour of the skin. While some pigmentation variations are benign and purely aesthetic issue, others may signal underlying health issues. At Northside Dermatology, we treat patients with diverse pigmentation concerns which cause the patient to experience either hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation.

  1. Hyperpigmentation: Characterised by patches of skin darker than the surrounding areas, hyperpigmentation can result from various conditions such as freckles, lentingines, seborrheic keratosis, hori’s naevus, naevus of Ota and even melanoma, and other factors, including sun exposure, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) from skin injuries or inflammation, hormonal changes such as those seen in melasma, certain medications, endocrine diseases like Addison’s disease, genetic predispositions, photosensitising agents, nutritional deficiencies, and the natural aging process.
  2. Hypopigmentation: This condition manifests as patches of skin lighter than the surrounding areas. Hypopigmentation may result from various conditions, including vitiligo, where the immune system targets melanocytes, the cells responsible for pigment production. Other causes include post-inflammatory hypopigmentation following skin injuries or inflammation, fungal infections like tinea versicolor, certain genetic conditions like albinism, and skin conditions such as pityriasis alba and psoriasis.
How do pigment disorders impact daily life?

Living with a pigmentation disorder can exact an emotional toll. Societal beauty norms, often unattainable, amplify feelings of self-consciousness and inadequacy, prompting individuals to conceal or withdraw from social interactions. We recognise the psychological burden pigmentation disorders impose and endeavour to provide compassionate care addressing both physical and emotional dimensions.


Understanding and managing pigmentation

We work closely with our patients who have pigmentation issues to help them understand their condition. We explain the causes, triggers, and treatment options. By providing this knowledge, we aim to clarify their condition and help them feel confident in managing it effectively.


What treatments are available for pigmentation?

At Northside Dermatology, we offer a comprehensive range of medical and aesthetic treatment options tailored to individual needs and goals. Some of these treatments include:

PicoSure Pro: PicoSure Pro effectively treats various pigmentation issues across all skin types, including melasma, naevus of Ota, and Hori’s naevus. With quick sessions, minimal discomfort, and no downtime, it’s ideal for enhancing skin texture and tone on both face and body.

Q-Switched Laser for Pigment: The Q-Switched laser is renowned for its ability to treat deeper pigmentation issues such as birthmarks and tattoo removal. By delivering high-intensity laser pulses, it breaks down the pigment particles, allowing the body to naturally eliminate them.

LaseMD Ultra 1927nm Resurfacing Treatment: This LaseMD Ultra 1927nm Resurfacing Treatment effectively targets a range of skin imperfections including sun spots, freckles, wrinkles, and uneven skin texture. Suitable for all skin types, it offers quick sessions with minimal downtime (typically 3-5 days) and delivers consistent, fast results.

Excel V Depigmentation: Excel V laser treatments target pigmented lesions with precision, breaking down excess melanin and promoting a more even skin tone. This treatment is effective for a variety of pigmentation issues, including sunspots and age spots.

CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing Treatment: Utilising fractional ablative laser technology, CO2 laser skin resurfacing is the gold standard for addressing wrinkles, scars, and severe sun damage. This customisable treatment promotes skin remodelling and enhances overall skin texture and tone on both face and body.

Chemical Peels: Chemical peels employ varying formulations to exfoliate and renew skin, effectively targeting concerns such as wrinkles, blemishes, and uneven pigmentation. These treatments are designed to refresh and rejuvenate the skin, promoting a smoother, more radiant complexion with minimal downtime.


We also have specific treatment plans for conditions like Melasma & Vitiligo. Once diagnosed your Dermatologist will formulate the best treatment plan for you. These plans could include a combination of treatments for example:

Melasma Treatment:  Melasma requires a specialised approach due to its complex nature. We utilise a combination of topical treatments, rotating through topical/injection/oral medications, chemical peels and laser treatment, to manage and reduce melasma effectively.

Vitiligo Treatment:  Our vitiligo repigmentation program involves the use of anti-inflammatory creams and phototherapy sessions tailored to each patient’s skin type and vitiligo type. The program restores pigmentation to white patches in the majority of patients by using a specific dose of ultraviolet B (UVB) light during phototherapy sessions, recommended two to three times weekly over 20 weeks.


What are some practical tips for managing pigmentation concerns?

Managing pigmentation disorders often requires a holistic approach, combining professional treatments with daily skincare practices. Here are some practical tips:

Sun Protection: Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, wear protective clothing, and seek shade during peak sun hours to prevent exacerbating pigmentation issues.

Gentle Skincare: Opt for gentle cleansers and avoid harsh scrubs. Use products with ingredients like niacinamide and vitamin C to help brighten the skin.

Consistent Moisturising: Keep the skin well-hydrated with a moisturiser suited to your skin type.

Healthy Diet: Eat a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support skin health. Foods like berries, leafy greens, and nuts can protect the skin from oxidative stress.


At Northside Dermatology, we understand that addressing pigmentation disorders is about more than just clear skin; it’s about restoring confidence and helping patients take control of their appearance. We are committed to supporting our patients every step of the way, offering personalised treatment plans, compassionate care, and ongoing support.

Pigmentation disorders can be challenging, but with the right support and treatment, it is possible to manage these conditions effectively and regain confidence. At Northside Dermatology in Melbourne, we are dedicated to providing care that meets the holistic needs of our patients, empowering them to embrace their unique skin story and feel confident in their skin. If you’re dealing with a pigmentation disorder, don’t hesitate to book a consultation with us.


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Hours of Operation

Monday - Friday, 9am-5pm

Phone Number

03 8582 8688

Fax Number

03 8582 8788

Fitzroy North

379 St Georges Rd
Fitzroy North 3068

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2A Marchant Avenue
Reservoir, Melbourne

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