Understanding Skin Discoloration & What You Can Do to Treat It - The Dermatology Review

Understanding Skin Discoloration & What You Can Do to Treat It

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09.28.18 AD DISCLOSURE

For most people, achieving a bright and even complexion is one of the key milestones on the journey to healthy skin. While healthy skin is based on many different factors, the actual appearance is usually the first characteristic that people look to. When skin looks smooth and the complexion is even and bright, skin appears healthy. However, dealing with skin discoloration is a common frustration for those who want healthy skin and in some cases, it can be a common sign of an underlying problem. The causes of Skin discoloration vary depending on factors like age, the appearance of the skin discoloration, and even the location. And depending on what’s causing your skin discoloration, treatment options will vary as well.

What Causes Skin Discoloration

To begin to understand skin discoloration, it’s best to start with the pigment that is responsible for all skin color: melanin. Each and every person’s skin produces melanin which is the substance that gives our skin its pigmentation. This substance lives on the epidermis, the surface level of our skin, and is what gives each of us our unique skin tone. People with darker complexions produce higher levels of melanin while people with lighter complexions produce lower levels of melanin.

Whenever a person experiences any form of skin discoloration, it is due some fluctuation in melanin production. This could mean melanocytes, which are the cells that produce melanin, are clustered in certain areas, or that there is too much or too little melanin being produced, and in some cases, there is a complete and total absence of melanin at all. Generally, the type of skin discoloration that you encounter is a direct effect of the type of melanin fluctuation in the skin.

Understanding Skin Discoloration & What You Can Do to Treat It

Now, the cause of this melanin fluctuation could be a number of things. Typically, melanin production increases due to overexposure to environmental factors like UV rays, pollution, and free radicals. It’s also very common for melanin production to increase after skin trauma like acne blemishes or certain skin treatments like facial peels. And in some cases, melanin production is simply a result of genetics or the natural aging process. Knowing what type of skin discoloration you are dealing with and why is the first step in getting the proper skin discoloration treatment that you need.

The Different Types of Skin Discoloration Conditions

When most people think about skin discoloration conditions, they tend to center their conversation on skin discoloration on the face. Things like freckles, sun spots, or dark spots due to acne blemishes are common face skin discolorations that people are familiar with. However, skin discoloration conditions can be as simple as they can

be complex.

Lifestyle Related & General Skin Discoloration Colorations

  • Birthmarks – A type of skin discoloration that we have no control over are birthmarks. This skin discoloration is typically present when were are born and appear on the skin as marks of varying sizes and color. Birthmarks aren’t dangerous and are completely normal, however, depending on the location (such as a large birthmark causing skin discoloration on the face) some people may opt to have this type of skin discoloration treated.
  • Age/Sun Spots – A common skin discoloration that occurs with age are lentigines, which are more commonly known as age or sun spots. This skin discoloration condition appears on the skin as flat, circular, brown spots, that are between 5 – 20mm in diameter. Lentigines are a type of skin discoloration that occurs over a lifetime of prolonged exposure to the sun. They frequently appear as skin discoloration on the face and the back of the hands or any other area that is in the direct path of sunlight.
  • Melasma – This skin discoloration condition is most common in people who are undergoing some type of hormone fluctuation. Melasma appears as skin discoloration on the face and is possible on both the top and middle layer of the skin making it especially tricky to treat. While melanoma is a skin discoloration that is triggered by some type of hormonal change, it isn’t usually a cause for concern. However, for people who want some relief, skin discoloration creams work especially well for this particular skin condition.

Chronic Skin Discoloration Disorders

  • Seborrheic Dermatitis – Sometimes, chronic skin disorders can cause skin discoloration as well. For seborrheic dermatitis, a key characteristic is a red, scaly rash that appears. This red-colored skin discoloration is normally found on the scalp, but it can appear as skin discoloration on other areas of the body as well. While dealing with skin discoloration caused by seborrheic dermatitis is frustrating and normally long-term, it isn’t contagious and can be treated with anti-fungal skin creams.
  • Eczema – Another chronic skin disorder that is known to cause skin discoloration is eczema. Common characteristics of eczema include red skin discoloration due to inflammation and sometimes white patches. Skin discoloration due to eczema is most common amongst those who have deeper complexions which can result in dark or light spots appearing on the skin. There are many different skin creams that can help minimize the skin discoloration that can occur with eczema.

Skin Discoloration Diseases

  • Vitiligo – In some cases, skin discoloration is more than just a condition or disorder that can easily be treated. Vitiligo, for example, is a skin discoloration disease that is known by its characteristic white patches on the skin. This skin discoloration disease happens when the cells that produce melanin, stop functioning. The cause for this has not been determined, but Vitiligo can occur at any age and appear on any area of the body. It’s not uncommon for the white patches of Vitiligo to appear as skin discoloration on the neck, back, arms, and legs. While there are a few skin discoloration treatments and creams that can help reduce the appearance of  Vitiligo, an evaluation and prescription by a medical professional are essential for this skin discoloration disease.
  • Albinism – A skin discoloration disease—which by some is considered a genetic disorder—that occurs at birth is Albinism. While most times the skin discoloration conversation is centered hyperpigmentation or excess melanin, Albinism is skin discoloration that is due to hypopigmentation or lack of melanin. The skin discoloration associated with Albinism ranges from partial to complete absence of pigmentation and it can affect more than just the skin including hair and eye color. Albinism comes with an increased risk of other skin related diseases and those affected typically have vision problems. While there are very few skin discoloration treatments that can help Albinism, proper education and preventative treatments are a great way to help manage this skin discoloration disease.

Best Skin Discoloration Creams

For those who are dealing with skin discoloration, one of the easiest ways to get some treatment is with skin discoloration creams. There are many different kinds of skin discoloration creams available that work to fade dark spots, brighten the skin, and help to even the complexion. Some of the most celebrated include Clinique’s Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector, a skin discoloration hyperpigmentation cream that works to diminish the appearance of dark spots. Another is Eve Lom’s White Brightening Lotion which is a skin discoloration brightening cream used to help brighten the complexion and soothe inflammation. The SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector is a great skin discoloration pigmentation treatment that works to treat the types of skin discoloration commonly caused by environmental factors while strengthening the skin in the process.

Skin Discoloration Treatments

Although the more complicated skin discoloration conditions can be frustrating, there are many different types of skin discoloration treatments available to help reduce or even completely remove the discoloration. There are resurfacing treatments like chemical peels or laser surgery that are extremely effective in reducing the appearance of skin discoloration. These kinds of skin discoloration treatments work like an intense exfoliation, removing the top layer of the skin and its discoloration, allowing healthy, even-toned skin to come through.

For more serious skin discoloration diseases and disorders, treatments like cryotherapy may be used. Cryotherapy works by freezing the area of the skin affected by discoloration so that it is able to be removed. Once the discolored skin is removed, healthy skin able to replace it. Cryotherapy is commonly used for skin discolorations that are dangerous like melanoma or warts. And alongside cryotherapy, there are also some surgical skin discoloration treatments available. Skin grafting is a common skin discoloration treatment where normal skin on the body is transplanted to the area of the skin is discolored. This type of surgical skin discoloration treatment may be an option for those suffering from Vitiligo.

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