Dyschromia: Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

An abnormality in the color of the skin.

Skin color is determined by cells called melanocytes. All races have the same number of these cells. Melanosomes are structures in the melanocytes that produce the pigment melanin. There are more and larger melanosomes in darker skin melanocytes than in those of lighter skin.

Dyschromia is a disorder of pigmentation of the skin. It can be caused by hyperpigmentations that are a common condition in which patches of skin become darker in color than the normal surrounding skin. Freckles, age spots, lentigines and other darkened skin patches can become darker or more pronounced when skin is exposed to the sun.

Age or "liver" spots are a common form of dyschromia. They occur due to sun damage and are referred to by doctors as solar lentigines. These small, darkened patches are usually found on the hands and face or other areas frequently exposed to the sun.

Melasma or chloasma spots are similar in appearance to age spots but are larger areas of darkened skin that appear most often as a result of hormonal changes. Pregnancy and birth control pills can trigger overproduction of melanin that causes the "mask" on the face and darkened skin on the abdomen and other areas. Women who take birth control pills may also develop dyschromia because their bodies undergo similar kinds of hormonal changes that occurs during pregnancy. If one is really bothered by the pigment, the birth control pill can be changed or stopped.

Changes in skin color can result from outside causes. For example, skin diseases such as acne may leave dark spots after the condition clears. Other causes of dark spots are injuries to the skin, including some surgeries. Freckles are small brown spots that can appear anywhere on the body but are most common on the face and arms. Freckles are an inherited characteristic.

Freckles, age spots, and other darkened skin patches can become darker or more pronounced when skin is exposed to the sun. This happens because melanin absorbs the energy of the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays in order to protect the skin from overexposure. The usual result of this process is skin tanning, which tends to darken areas that are already hyperpigmented. Wearing a sunscreen is a must. The sunscreen must be "broad spectrum" (i.e. it blocks both ultraviolet A and B). A single day of excess sun can ruin months of treatment.

Dyschromia is most commonly appears on the backs of the hands, the forearms, neck, chest, and face. Sunspots are associated with cumulative sun exposure. The pigment-producing cells in the skin (called melanocytes) are activated to produce more pigment (melanin) by ultraviolet rays. While these spots are not themselves cancerous, you may be at risk for skin cancer if you have them.


  • Basal cell carcinoma.Dyschromia
  • Squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Cafe-au-lait spots.
  • Chloasma.
  • Cuts, scrapes, wounds, insect bites and minor skin infections.
  • Erythrasma.
  • Melasma.
  • Melanoma.
  • Moles (nevi), bathing trunk nevi, or giant nevi
  • Mongolian blue spots.
  • Photosensitivity as a reaction to medications or certain drugs.
  • Pityriasis alba.
  • Radiation therapy.
  • Rashes.
  • Sunburn or suntan.
  • Tinea versicolor.
  • Uneven application of sunscreen resulting in areas of burn, tan, and no tan.
  • Vitiligo.

Risk Factors:

  • Your genes.
  • Heat.
  • Injury.
  • Exposure to solar or ionizing radiation.
  • Exposure to heavy metals.
  • Changes in hormone levels.


The main symptom of dyschromia is red or purple patches that occur on any area of the skin. These changes generally occur once the blood vessels are constricted. The blood vessels cannot properly distribute blood throughout the body and blood may build up in certain areas close to the skin's surface.In rare cases, dyschromia can be a sign of a serious immediate health concern. If the mottling comes on suddenly and appears with other symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or pain in the area, it could be a sign of physical shock. In these cases, a doctor will need to find out immediately if the person has any other serious preexisting conditions or injuries or it could be fatal if not treated.


Tests that may be done include:

  • Scrapings of skin lesions.
  • Skin biopsy.
  • Wood's lamp (ultraviolet light) examination of the skin.


The best treatment for dyschromia is prevention. The key to preventing dyschromia is sun avoidance and daily sunscreen use. For example, you won't find dyschromia on your inner thigh because of minimal or no sun exposure. However, for most of us, it is too late for prevention, and there are a number of treatment options available.

There are now several highly effective laser treatments to remove pigment and dyschromic skin appearance without scarring.

Top dyschromia treatment options:

  • Chemical peels.
  • Laser resurfacing.
  • Intense pulsed light therapy.
  • Bleaching creams.

NOTE: The above information is for processing purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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