Hyperpigmentation is a condition in the skin caused by an increase in melanin, a substance in the body responsible for skin coloring (pigment). When a person is healthy, the color of his skin will look normal. In the case of illness or injury, a person’s skin can change color, become darker (hyperpigmented) or lighter (hypopigmentation).
Causes of Hyperpigmentation
In certain conditions, such as pregnancy or Addison’s disease – decreased adrenal gland function, can cause greater production of melanin and a hyperpigmentation occurs. Sun exposure is a major cause of hyperpigmentation, and will darken the sun-exposed area.
Hyperpigmentation can also be caused by a variety of drugs, including some antibiotics, antiarrhythmic drugs (drugs for abnormal heart rhythms), and antimalarial drugs.
Melasma is an example of a hyperpigmentation condition also known as chloasma, a brown or black spot that is most often seen on the face. Melasma can occur in pregnant women and is often called the “mask of pregnancy.” But not only women, men can also be affected by this condition. Melasma sometimes disappears after pregnancy. Melasma can also be treated with certain prescription creams, such as hydroquinone creams.
If you have melasma, try to limit sun exposure during the day. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, umbrella, and use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher at any time because sunlight will worsen the condition of melasma.
Sunscreens that contain physical blockers of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide also help in blocking Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays during the day which make hyperpigmentation worse. It’s better to use a broad-spectrum sun block that can block UVA and UVB exposure. Consult your doctor before treating the condition yourself.
What is hypopigmentation?
Hypopigmentation is loss of skin color due to disease or trauma. This can affect people from birth or develop later. Melanocytes are pigment cells that produce melanin.
Melanin is a protein that gives skin, hair, and eyes pigment or color. The amount of pigment in the skin usually varies depending on sun exposure and genetics. But pigmentation disorders can also affect the darkness or brightness of the skin.
Loss of pigment or skin color can occur throughout the body or be localized. In local hypopigmentation, there may be some patches or areas on the skin that appear white. The size and shape of the fillings can vary greatly.
In people with hypopigmentation, there is a decrease in melanocytes or melanin itself. Decreased amino acid tyrosine can also cause hypopigmentation. Melanocytes uses tyrosine to make melanin.
Hypopigmentation can occur in people of all races, but may be more visible in people with darker skin because of the contrast between natural skin color and white patches.
Examples of hypopigmentation are:
- Vitiligo Vitiligo is a smooth white spot on the skin caused by melanin deficiency. In some people, this pattern can appear throughout the body. This is an autoimmune disorder in which pigment producing cells become damaged. There is no cure for vitiligo, but there are several treatments, including cosmetics to mask the condition of vitiligo or ultraviolet light treatments.
- Albinism Albinism is a hereditary disease that is rarely caused by the absence of enzymes that produce melanin. This causes incomplete pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. Albino has an abnormal gene that limits the body’s production of melanin. There is no cure for albinism. People with albinism must use sunscreen all the time because they are far more likely to get skin damage from sunlight and skin cancer. This disorder can occur in any race, but is most common in the white race.
- Damaged pigmentation as a result of skin damage If you already have a skin infection, blisters, burns, or other trauma to your skin, you may have a condition of loss of pigmentation in the affected area. Often this condition is not permanent, but it may take a long time to restore the pigment. Cosmetics can be used to cover the affected area while the body regenerates pigments.
Causes of Hypopigmentation
There are several different causes of hypopigmentation. This condition most often develops as a result of injury or trauma to the skin. Blisters, burns and infections can damage the skin and cause hypopigmentation. Cosmetic skin treatments, such as chemical peels and lasers, can also cause hypopigmentation if the procedure is done incorrectly.
Certain chronic conditions can also cause hypopigmentation. In cases where hypopigmentation is due to a chronic condition, where the condition is usually present from birth.
How to treat hypopigmentation
Treatment for hypopigmentation depends on the cause. Many people choose not to treat hypopigmentation if it does not cause disturbing symptoms.
There is no cure for albinism. However, people with albinism have a higher risk of developing skin cancer. They must be careful of sun exposure and always use sunscreen when it is daytime.
People with albinism also have an increased risk of vision problems, so they should try wearing sunglasses and wide hats when needed.
In other cases, treatment may not be needed. For example, people who develop hypopigmentation because of an injury can find that their skin returns to normal color over time without treatment.
Hypopigmentation due to or skin disorders may also not require treatment. In many cases, white patches disappear by themselves. One can choose to use topical steroid creams that can help reduce discoloration of the skin. Moisturizing lotion may also be useful for reducing the dryness and itching of the skin that can occur with the condition.
Although there is no cure for vitiligo, certain treatments can help reduce white spots on the skin.