- by Dr Vivekananda Bhat
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- Jun 08 2017
Hyperpigmentation, Hypopigmentation and Your Skin
The natural colour of the skin comes from a pigment occurring in the skin known as melanin. Melanin is what makes our skin dark when we step out in the sun. Different people have different amount of melanin in their skin that accounts for their skin tone. More melanin means darker tone and less melanin means a lighter skin tone.
Skin pigmentation can also occur due to illness, injury of the skin, autoimmune disorders and result in the skin becoming either dark (hyperpigmentation) or light (hypopigmentation) at certain places.
Hyperpigmentation can be caused by many underlying reasons. Often a dermatologist is referred for the exact cause of it. Not every type of hyperpigmentation is harmful, yet it is advisable to always keep checking your skin for any dark patches and uneven colour tone.
Hyperpigmentation in skin is caused by an increase in melanin. Some conditions like pregnancy, Addison’s disease which causes decreased function of adrenal gland can increase the production of melanin and result in hyperpigmentation.
Exposure to sunlight is a major cause of hyperpigmentation, and is usually reversed after some time if direct sunlight is avoided.
Hyperpigmentation can also be caused by antibiotics, antiarrhythmic and antimalarial drugs.
Melasma or Chloasma is a condition where brown patches form on the body, these patches are mostly seen on face. This condition often occurs in pregnant women, however men can also develop it. Melasma can be treated with prescription creams like hydroquinone.
Precautions in Melasma:
– limit your exposure to daylight
– wear a hat and use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
– consult with your doctor before treating the condition yourself.
Hypopigmentation in skin is the result of reduced melanin production. Examples of hypopigmentation include:
Vitiligo is the depigmentation of skin causing white patches to occur on different parts of the body. The quantity and size of these patches can vary from very big patches covering the entire limbs, face, back to smaller patches that can be easily concealed with clothing or cosmetic products that blend the patches with the tone of the skin.
Vitiligo, although harmless is more of a social disease. The white patches are seen as a taboo by many who misunderstand it as a communicable skin disease. It is a medical fact that Vitiligo does not spread from one person to another. But still Vitiligo patients often undergo social anxiety and emotional stress due to their physical appearance and the way they are treated by their peers and society which results in loss of self confidence and seclusion. It becomes important for them to seek Treatment for Vitiligo or come with a coping strategy to cover up their white patches and live a normal life.
Albinism in a disorder that causes complete absence of melanin. It is caused by the absence of an enzyme that is important for melanin production. It affects skin, hair and even the black of eyes. It is a genetic disorder that stops the body from producing melanin.
Pigmentation loss can also result from skin damage. Infections, burns and blisters result in loss of melanin in the affected area. In most cases the pigment loss is not permanent and the colour tone is restored by the body automatically.
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