“My elbows are a darker brown. It looks dirty. How can I lighten them?”

Darker skin and spots, known as hyperpigmentation, can appear on specific body parts for no apparent reason. You may have noticed unusual darkening of the skin in localised areas. Elbows and knees are the most visible and prominent. The more sensitive skin in armpits and the groin area can also be affected by hyperpigmentation.

The darker skin that you see is not the same as the spots, lentigines, melasma or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) that can appear on other parts of the body, usually the hands, face, neck, chest and upper back. Compared to these kinds of hyperpigmentation, localised discolouration on specific areas of the body is homogeneous and lightens at the edge of an invisible boundary. While there is nothing harmful about the difference in pigmentation, the contrast can be quite high. For someone affected, it may have a real impact on their self-confidence and well-being, influencing what they decide to wear and do.


You can find out more information in our Hyperpigmentation in the Spotlight article.

localised pigmentation

The causes behind localised hyperpigmentation


  • Dr Michèle Sayag, allergologist
    Michèle Sayag, Allergist and Medical Strategy Director - Bioderma.

    Waxing, shaving, rubbing the skin and wearing clothing, all these daily actions can cause hyperpigmentation on delicate body parts. It is more common than we think, and it particularly affects dark phototypes.

    Michèle Sayag, Allergist and Medical Strategy Director - Bioderma.

These body joints are used and get touched all day long. Rubbed dry with towels, in constant contact with clothing, they also receive bumps during activities such as sports. The result of all this mechanical stress, chafing and movement, is friction melanosis: in some people, often having a darker skin type, elbows and knees turn a darker colour than the surrounding skin1,2,3. Why there is this hyperpigmentation is still unknown. One theory is that it could be due to pigment incontinence, where epidermal melanin leaks into the dermis4.

1Magaña, M. & Herrera-Goepfert, R. Friction hypermelanosis: other variants. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 47, 454; author reply 454–5 (2002).
2 Hidano, A., Mizuguchi, M. & Higaki, Y. [Friction melanosis]. Ann. Dermatol. Venereol. 111, 1063–71 (1984).
3 Wong, C. & Lin, C. Friction Amyloidosis. Int. J. Dermatol. 27, 302–307 (1988).
4Al-Aboosi, M. M. et al. Friction melanosis: A clinical, histologic, and ultrastructural study in Jordanian patients. Int. J. Dermatol. 43, 261–264 (2004)
elbows and knees

Just as friction seems to encourage hyperpigmentation in knees and elbows, regular shaving and waxing seems to do the same in armpits and the groin area. These sensitive areas may grow even more sensitive through repeated shaving or waxing. Skin can turn red as well as develop hyperpigmentation.

ampits and groin

We often hear about hyperpigmentation on the face, neck, hands… It is now well known that ageing, sun exposure and even skin lesions can cause pigmentation disorders. We often forget that the most delicate parts of the body – knees, elbows, armpits or even intimate areas – can be affected as well, and need dedicated products.


Michèle Sayag, Allergist and Medical Strategy Director at Bioderma

BIODERMA solution for dark spots

“I need a gentle and safe product for my sensitive areas.”

A Laboratoire Bioderma innovation, Pigmentbio Sensitive areas is the first skincare product specifically designed to treat pigmentation on sensitive and intimate parts of the body. Created specifically for these areas, it provides the perfect alliance between tolerance and effectiveness, and is extremely safe for intimate external areas.

Pigmentbio Sensitive areas’ patented combination of active ingredients performs a dual action on the biological processes that produce melanin, which pigments skin. The cream helps to combat hyperpigmentation and prevent it from appearing by lightening the skin and making pigmentation more uniform. It also soothes irritation and redness, and moisturises. Clinical tests have shown that Pigmentbio Sensitive areas lightens skin and that it has 100% tolerance.

Active ingredients chosen specifically for their lightening and soothing properties

Skin pigmentation comes from melanin, which is produced deep inside the dermis in a four-step process known as melanogenesis’. The active ingredients that Bioderma has chosen for Pigmentbio Sensitive areas all prevent and correct dark spots, reduce and regulate the biological mechanism that leads to hyperpigmentation, and soothe and strengthen the skin barrier.

Andrographolide and lysine azelate both reduce the production of melanin by inhibiting parts of the melanogenesis process. With less melanin produced, the skin is less pigmented.

Glabridin (liquorice root) also inhibits melanin production. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, further helping to reduce pigmentation.

pigment lightening effect

Soothing skin and reducing inflammation is key to helping the skin to strengthen its barrier role and stay healthy. Laminaria ochroleuca, or golden seaweed, is rich in vitamins A and E and lipids. The Pigmentbio Sensitive areas formula contains an extract to soothe and reduce inflammatory reactions that can cause hyperpigmentation.

strengthened skin barrier

62 subjects with hyperpigmentation in their armpits or groin took part in a clinical study under dermatological and gynaecological control. They applied Pigmentbio Sensitive areas daily over a two-month period, demonstrating the product’s efficacy and tolerance.

  • 45% fall in the size of hyperpigmented areas after just 28 days5
  • 80% decrease in the size of areas after two months5
  • 92% of participants said their skin was soothed6
  • 89% of participants said the product prevented new dark spots from appearing6


5Image analysis from clinical study, 31 subjects with hyperpigmentation on armpits - Brazil 2020
6Self-assessment from clinical study, average answers from 62 subjects with hyperpigmentation on groin area or armpits - Brazil 2020

Good to know

Pigmentbio Sensitive areas is totally safe on intimate areas. It has been specially formulated for sensitive and external intimate areas. Dermatological and gynaecological tests have shown no cases of reaction and 100% tolerance.

remove pigmentation

Pigmentbio Sensitive areas can be easily integrated into your daily routine to help you remove hyperpigmentation in sensitive or localised areas. Apply to knees, elbows, armpits and the external groin area on a daily basis.

1. Clean your skin with Pigmentbio Foaming cream, an exfoliation cleansing cream that brightens your skin fresh in the shower.

2. Apply Pigmentbio Sensitive areas to hyperpigmented areas on your body, once or twice a day. Can be used immediately after shaving or waxing. External use only.

Non-greasy texture that leaves skin soft and fresh

Pigmentbio Sensitive areas is so soft and fresh on the skin!”

Specifically designed for sensitive and intimate areas, Pigmentbio Sensitive areas is a rich cream that produces an immediate soothing sensation. It spreads gradually, providing a light and refreshing feel at first before giving way to an enveloping and melting texture that absorbs quickly and leaves a soft and dry finish. An excellent moisturiser, Pigmentbio Sensitive areas will immediately soothe skin damaged by hair removal or razor burn.

Yes, 97% of women who tested the product assert that the cream penetrates quickly into the skin. You can apply your anti-perspirant immediately and get dressed without any trouble.

cream penetrates quickly

Non-greasy, non-sticky, the texture is pleasant and fresh, which can be particularly satisfying after shaving or waxing. 94% of women who tested it enjoyed the sensation of freshness when applying it. 100% of them liked the soft feeling of their skin after application.

cream penetrates quickly

Yes, you can continue using it when you’re outside. Be sure to apply a sunscreen product on your hyperpigmented areas that are exposed to the sun – in fact, to all parts of your skin that are exposed to the sun.

cream penetrates quickly