Melanin, a pigment which is produced by skin cells is responsible for the natural skin tone of an individual. When skin cells become damaged or unhealthy due to any illness or injury the production of melanin is affected.
Skin pigmentation disorders change the natural skin colour either by overproduction in melanin (hyper pigmentation) which makes the skin darker than normal skin tone or reduced production of melanin (hypo pigmentation) which makes the skin colour lighter. While some pigmentation disorders occur in patches on the skin’s surface, others affect the entire body.
Symptoms vary in different types of skin pigmentation disorders. Albinism can be diagnosed by checking carefully a person’s eyes, skin and hair colour. Since albinism happens due to complete absence of melanin and is a genetic condition, a uniform light colour of skin and hair is seen all over the body. While a change in skin colour occurring in patches can be an important symptom.
- Exposure to sun.
- Drug reaction.
- Genetic inheritance.
- Auto immune disorder.
- Hormonal changes.
Family history: A genetic tendency or family history of skin pigmentation can put you at risk.
To diagnose skin pigmentation disorders other than a visual examination of a person, sometimes a Wood’s lamp or black light test (dermatological diagnostic tool) can be used to diagnose certain skin conditions related to pigmentation. To rule out skin cancer, a biopsy may be done where a small affected skin is removed to study under a microscope.
- It is advisable for all those who are affected by skin pigmentation disorders to protect themselves from over exposure to sun rays by covering up, using sunscreen and avoiding outdoors when the rays are strongest.
- Skin-lightening or skin bleaching agents can help lighten the skin (hyper pigmentation disorders).
- Topical creams containing hydroquinone or tretinoin and topical steroid creams can counter effects of certain types of hyper pigmentation.
- Chemical peels.
- Laser surgery.
- Avoid overexposure to the sun and especially when sun rays are strongest.
- Use a sunscreen whenever you step outdoors.
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