Hypopigmentation: Description, Causes and Risk Factors:Hypopigmentation is the absence of normal amounts of melanin. Melanin is the substance that gives skin its color, or pigment. When the skin cells that produce melanin (melanocytes) reduce their production, the resulting condition is known as hypopigmentation (loss of skin color). Hypopigmentation is also known as skin depigmentation.The most common cause of it is damage or trauma to the skin. Burns, infections, pimples, blisters, scrapes, and any injuries that result in scarring can all lead to skin discoloration.Improperly administered skin resurfacing treatments, such as Photofacials, laser peels, or chemical peels, can cause skin damage that results in hypopigmentation.Some chronic skin disorders can also cause hyperpigmentation, such as the following:Seborrheic dermatitis - an inflammatory skin disease characterized by red, scaly, itchy patches of skin in areas prone to oiliness
Tinea versicolor - caused by fungal (yeast) infection and characterized by scaly, itchy patches of lighter or pinkish skin
Pityriasis alba - most commonly affects children and is characterized by colorless, scaly skin patches
Albinism - characterized by colorless skin, hair, and eyes that occurs because skin cells produce little or no melanin
Vitiligo - characterized by patchy loss of skin color that occurs when skin cells that produce melanin die or stop production for no known reason
Hypopigmentation is also seen in:Albinism.
Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis.
Hypopigmentation affects Caucasians most often, but can occur in any race. Individuals with the disorder often have very light red or blonde hair, and light blue or gray eyes. However, individuals with albinism will have no pigment in their hair, skin, and eyes, resulting in a very pale appearance, almost white colored hair, and pink skin and eyes.Symptoms:Hypopigmentation is easily identified by an area of the skin that suddenly appears white or much lighter in appearance than the surrounding skin. The discoloration may be localized, such as over a scar, or it can be generalized, appearing on several areas of the body. Random areas of discoloration, often accompanied by itching and sunburn, may indicate vitiligo.Diagnosis:A diagnosis of this will typically begin with a visual examination of the skin. Blood tests are often ordered to check blood cell counts, thyroid function, and to screen for any autoimmune conditions. Questions about lifestyle, onset of symptoms, and general medical history will further aid the doctor in determining the specific cause of the condition. In some cases, a biopsy, or removal of a small area of tissue in the affected area, may be required.Treatment:Hypopigmentation treatment options are often limited. Treating post-inflammatory hypopigmentation may involve the use of topical corticosteroids or tars (topical cream), light or laser treatment, or surgical skin grafting.Although the numerous lasers and other light-based treatments available today are often perceived as a cosmetic cure-alls, IPL, excimer lasers, and the Fraxel Restore laser are the only light-based procedures that have been suggested by the doctors on RealSelf for hypopigmentation treatment.If a chronic skin disorder is causing it, then treatment will likely involve topical prescription medications. For this that is unresponsive to medications, camouflaging with cosmetic tattooing or permanent makeup may be the best option.For patients who experience extreme hypopigmentation on over half of their body (a rare occurrence of vitiligo), overall depigmentation is an option.Topical medications, such as hydroquinone, Tri-Luma, and other skin lightening agents, may be used to bleach skin not affected by hypopigmentation so that it can blend in better with hypopigmented skin.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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