Skin pigmentation disorders can cause an uneven skin tone, or discolor the skin temporarily or permanently. There are lots of reasons why pigmentation can be affected. Since our body’s production of melanin is what determines our skin tone, factors that alter our natural melanin levels lead to discoloration.
What causes skin pigmentation disorders?
The most common reason for skin discoloration is prolonged sun exposure. Sun exposure has numerous harmful effects on your skin, but discolored patches on your face, arms, hands and shoulders—often called age spots—are the least severe. Other typical causes of skin discoloration include rashes that cause your skin to become inflamed, mosquito bites and acne. Fungal infections like Tinea Versicolor are caused by the excessive growth of fungi—such as yeast—on your body, and make some patches of skin appear lighter than others.
Vitiligo is a rare autoimmune condition that tricks the body into killing off its own melanin cells. This results in blotches of skin becoming lighter, and can occur anywhere on the body and in unpredictable sizes and patterns. Vitiligo can affect anyone, but it is most noticeable in people with darker skin. Besides putting you at greater risk for sun damage, vitiligo is otherwise harmless.
How are skin pigmentation disorders treated?
Some cases of skin discoloration are curable, while others can be alleviated with consistent treatment. The most common treatments that our dermatologists will recommend are topical creams, pills, and in some cases, laser therapy. These treatments are effective, but it may take some time for the results to show. Most discolorations will disappear within a couple months. For disorders that cannot be cured, the discoloration may reappear at a later point due to an environmental trigger.
If you are concerned about an uneven skin tone or discolored patches of skin, our dermatologists can determine the origin of your problem very quickly. If you would like to meet with one of our dermatologists, you can schedule a same day or next day appointment on our website or by calling 651-209-1600.