Is there anything that treats hemosiderin staining?

I was in a pretty serious automobile accident last year that left me hospitalized for several weeks. I have since completely recovered except for this ugly discoloration of my skin in some places, something my doctor has diagnosed as hemosiderin staining. I've never heard of this condition but my doctor doesn't seem to be too concerned about it. Could you please explain this condition to me? And if these blotches are permanent is there anything, a cosmetic procedure, that can be done about it? Thank you.


F, 53, Vermont

Tags:woman age 45-54 discoloration hemosiderin staining

Hemosiderin staining or deposition is caused by your body’s immune response to red blood cells in the skin that are then broken down and can lead to melanogensis (creation of pigment). There are many causes that can lead to this, but other than aesthetic concern, it is technically harmless. One of the most popular ways to treat this condition is with laser therapy like the nd-YAG laser. 

I recommend seeking out the proper, board certified dermatologist or aesthetic specialist to help find the best treatment for you. 


Jeanine Downie, MD

Hi GeorgiaBell,

Hemosiderin staining can essentially be regarded as a very severe form of bruising. Staining occurs in areas where significant amounts of bruising have occurred as a result of severe injuries, hemorrhages or, in certain cases, after a particularly intense surgery.

The main issue with hemosiderin is that the iron present within it is difficult for the body to consume. Once the body is able to use this stored iron, in the same way that the body uses iron derived from food, the stain will fade.

You can read more about hemosiderin staining on our blog.



I am so sorry you were involved in a bad auto accident, but grateful you recovered from your injuries! I have hemosiderin staining on my legs due to a chronic disease I have, so unfortunately, until my disease is completely under control, it wouldn't be wise for me to have it treated yet.

However, since yours was the result of an acute injury, you can likely have it removed and look forward to it never coming back (hopefully)! I have been looking into treatment options, so I can make the right decision when the time comes. I read that cosmetic surgeons can correct this skin discoloration with laser therapy, and they use the same lasers for it that they use to remove tattoos. 

Hemosiderin staining, from what I understand, occurs when blood vessels or veins leak blood into the tissue just under the skin. As your body absorbs the blood, some of its dark pigmentation can remain and cause the discoloration. The good news it that in some people, it does go away naturally, but it can take years. Laser therapy can speed up recovery greatly.

Hemosiderosis or hemosiderin staining is caused by excessive bleeding into the skin or other tissue inside your body. Red blood cells start to break down and release hemoglobin, which contains a lot of iron. This can happen from the force and trauma of an automobile accident, and your immune system was probably unable to clean up the hemoglobin molecules naturally. This leaves the iron-rich hemoglobin below the skin, causing the discoloration that you see now.

There are some skin creams that claim to heal hemosiderosis, but most of them don't go deep enough into the body to deliver results. Your best option is laser skin treatment, but some people have better results than others. It's best to see a doctor with experience treating hemosiderosis with laser procedures. They can analyze your skin and ask questions about your medical history to determine your chance of reducing the skin stains safely.