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Hyperpigmentation is a darkening of the skin or nail tissue that is, on its own, usually harmless. This effect occurs due to an excess of melanin, often from sun exposure. Liver spots (or age spots), moles, freckles, and birthmarks are all examples of hyperpigmentation. For the most part, the condition is not serious or life-threatening, though it does indicate an increased risk of developing skin cancer.

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1. Melanin

Melanin is the natural pigment produced by the skin cells in humans and animals; it gives skin, eyes, and hair their color. The amount and type of melanin a person has depends on their genes. There are two types: eumelanin provides brownish colors, while pheomelanin produces the reddish color that often comes with freckles and red hair. People who are albino are born with extremely low levels of melanin, making their skin and hair appear pale or white. On the other hand, people with very dark skin, such as those of Ethiopian ethnicity, have high melanin levels.

diverse races skin colors socks Delmaine Donson / Getty Images
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