Types of Skin Pigmentation Disorders

Skin Pigmentation Disorders

There are two types of skin pigmentation disorders. If the skin develops dark patches it is called hyperpigmentation. If the skin develops white spots it is called hypopigmentation. Within each of these two categories, there are a variety of different skin pigmentation disorders.

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder that causes loss of skin pigment. The most common symptom of vitiligo is the appearance of white patches on skin. In vitiligo, the immune system destroys the skin cells that make melanin or pigment. There is no cure. As with other autoimmune disorders, vitiligo causes are not fully understood. Loss of pigmentation can also be the result burns or injury. A severe sunburn that results in blisters can cause temporary hypopigmentation. In these cases, the color often returns, but after a lengthy period of time.

The other skin pigmentation disorders involve the development of dark patches. People who have dark skin are more prone to develop this problem. A change in female hormones as a result of pregnancy, birth control pills, or hormone replacement therapy can cause melasma, a darkening of the skin, often on the face. In these cases, the melasma may go away after the child is born or if the hormone therapies are withdrawn. Melasma treatment varies depending on the severity of the problem, the person’s natural skin tone, and overall health. For some people chemical peels, microdermabrasion or over the counter skin bleaching products may be helpful. You should always consult your doctor about these procedures. Another of the skin pigmentation disorders is cause by medications including some antibiotics and medications to treat irregular heart beat.

Although some medications can cause pigmentation problems, you should never discontinue or modify the dose of any medication without talking to your doctor first. Ultimately, the decision to take a medication is a matter of risk versus benefit. It is a decision made between a patient and his doctor.