We live in a world in which our differences define us and make us beautiful. However, some of us are stronger than others. While a few brave souls can carry the flag for their differences, others may buckle under the weight, and feel the need to conform. Skin pigmentations are disorders that cause the skin to appear darker or lighter than normal, and even discolored and blotchy. While they are no indication of any deeper problem, they do affect a person’s outward appearance, and often self-esteem. Here is a little information about skin pigmentation disorders and treatment options.
Skin pigmentation disorders affect people of all races. They range from disorders such as albinism, which is very rare, to age spots, which are quite common. Melanin is the pigment in the body responsible for the color of our hair, skin, and eyes. It protects the body by absorbing ultraviolet light. Skin pigmentation disorders occur when the body produces too little or too much melanin.
Hypopigmentation occurs when the body does not produce enough melanin. Albinism is an example of lack of pigment which causes individuals to have very light skin, white or very pale hair, and gray or light blue eyes. Vitiligo is another form of hypo pigmentation which causes depigmentation white spots on the skin.
In hyper pigmentation, the body overproduces melanin. Melasma is a mask like discoloration which covers the bridge of the nose and the cheeks. Moles, freckles, birthmarks, and age spots are also an example of hyper pigmentation.
While in some cases, there is a clear cause of skin pigmentation disorders, in other cases, it is less clear. Albinism comes from an inherited recessive gene. The spots of hypo pigmentation associated with vitiligo can form as a result of the injury. The light patches from vitiligo do not contain melanocytes, the skin cells responsible for melanin creation. Some researchers believe vitiligo is caused by an autoimmune disorder, while others believe there to be a link between vitiligo and hyperthyroidism or Addison’s Disease, which affects the body’s adrenal gland.
Hyperpigmentation can result from many factors, including overexposure to the sun, poor nutrition, and reactions to drugs. Wounds and scars can lead to the development of dark patches. Melasma can be caused by pregnancy hormones, and usually, resolves itself after a woman gives birth. While moles, birthmarks, and aging spots are usually harmless, some moles can change in appearance or start bleeding, which may indicate skin cancer.
Different forms of skin pigmentation disorders require different treatments. Albinos are advised to keep their skin covered, use sunscreens, and avoid excess sunlight. Individuals with albinism need to wear protective sunglasses and may need prescription corrective lenses or even surgery to correct visual impairments.
Vitiligo is usually treated with a combination of prescription photosensitive medications or ultraviolet light therapy used to darken white spots, If the depigmented patches cover over 50% of the body, doctors may use skin bleaching agents, such as monobenzone to lighten skin and even town. Cosmetic concealers and skin grafting are also options.
Hyperpigmentation disorders can be treated by skin lightening cream. Professionals advise avoiding the sun. A dietician may be able to help in cases go poor nutrition. A suspicious birthmark or mole can be surgically removed.