Introduction to skin discoloration
Our world is a mixture of different kinds of people. We may have come across a person with uneven skin color. Skin is the largest organ of our body and covers us from head to toe. The color found on the skin is due to a pigment called melanin. It is a complex polymer derived from tyrosine (an amino acid) and is found in melanocytes cells. Epidermis, the top layer of our skin, is where the melanocytes are distributed. Whenever melanin is produced it spreads to the skin cells nearby and tries to bring about uniform skin color. Discoloration of the skin can happen when there is too much, too little or no melanin present. Melanocytes can also form groups or nests that lead to freckles, moles, age spots or other kinds of discoloration. There are different types of skin discoloration treatment available on the market today, all has its pros and cons so it’s better to check for the best suits your skin.
Causes of skin discoloration
Skin discoloration can develop from a grouping of blood vessels or funguses. Some of the common causes are an injury, illness or inflammatory problems. Basically, a difference in the melanin level can bring about skin discoloration in the neck, face, and legs. Skin infections cause localized changes in skin color and texture. Fungal infections like candida, tinea versicolor, and ringworm cause skin discoloration.
- Burns: A burn on the skin tissue causes a change in skin color. It can be a sunburn or a skin burn varying from first-degree to the third-degree. Uneven application of sunscreen leads to a patchy tan. Healing of a skin burn leads to the formation of a scar tissue that is not of the same skin color causing in discoloration.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes in the body lead to skin discoloration on the face or neck. During pregnancy, the increase in the levels of estrogen and progesterone cause dark colored patches of skin. Melasma or the mask of pregnancy is a condition where dark patches of skin develop on both sides of the face or the neck(rare) due to the hormone level change in the body in pregnant women (chloasma).
- Autoimmune disease and allergy: Autoimmune disease and allergy can also be a cause for this condition. The immune system attacks the healthy cells and causes inflammation that leads to discoloration. Diseases like lupus erythematosus and Grave’s can cause skin lightening or darkening. Allergy-like eczema causes scaly patches and red bumps on the skin. Various allergic reaction to foods, irritants or plants can cause discolored skin patches.
- Birthmarks: Birthmarks develop at birth or after birth and are discolored spots. Some of the different types of birthmarks found are moles (brown or black in color), strawberry nevus (red color) and Mongolian blue spots (blue patches on the skin).
- Skin Cancer: Skin cancer occurs when our DNA inside the cells get damaged due to long-term sun exposure or chemical exposure. Damaged cells start growing out of control to form a mass of cells. Some types are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, actinic keratosis (brown or pink spots on the hands or face) and melanoma (cancerous mole found on the chest or back in men and on the legs in women).
Skin pigmentation disorders
Skin pigmentation disorders too lead to discoloration. Common forms of disorders found are listed below,
- Melasma: This commonly found disorder affects the facial skin and causes brown patches. Its seen more often in women more than men. Causative factors of melasma can include sun exposure and hormonal changes.
- Vitiligo: Yet another commonly found disorder which can affect any part of the body. It affects melanocytes and hinders their proper functioning, which results in patches of lighter skin. Sometimes, it will also change a person’s hair color. The exact cause of vitiligo is unknown but is often linked with suppressed immune.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation: There is an increase or decrease in skin pigmentation following skin trauma, such as a blister or burn.
- Albinism. People with albinism do not produce enough melanin. This leads to little or no pigment in the skin, hair, or eyes. Albinism is a genetic disorder, meaning that a person inherits a faulty gene from one or both of their parents.
- Some other causes are contact dermatitis, rosacea (red bumps on nose, forehead or cheek), radiation therapy, stasis ulcer (occurs in lower legs) and vitiligo (white patches on the skin due to non-functioning melanocytes).
Different types of skin discoloration treatment
Skin discoloration treatment varies from person to person and depends on the cause. Firstly, the doctor checks for any underlying health condition and prescribes treatment for it. If the cause is skin cancer, the associated treatment is started as soon as possible. For birthmarks and skin pigmentation disorders, no treatment is required. Some people may wish to treat it for cosmetic reasons.
Medical treatments given include laser therapy, chemical peels, and topical creams. Lasers (Q-switched) are used to help lighten the skin areas that have darkened. Chemical peels consist of glycolic acid and salicylic acid, which can be used to remove the outer discolored skin layer.
Chemical peels: Chemical peels which have salicylic acid in it can be used to treat skin discoloration and remove the outer, discolored layer of skin.
Home remedies: Home remedies can also be tried for skin discoloration.
- Lemon juice application helps to lighten the dark skin areas.
- Creams rich in vitamin A or vitamin E can reduce the appearance of discoloration and improve a person’s health.
- Vitamin C-rich foods boost skin health and are an essential nutrient for the skin.
- Castor oil application in discolored areas or a cloth soaked in this oil helps to smooth the skin and break down excess melanin.
- Tea consumption also has a role in fighting skin discoloration. Drinking tea made from red clover or milk thistle helps reduce skin discoloration.
- Olive oil can be used to soften dead skin cells that are discolored. The application of olive oil softens and then sloughs them away. Honey too can be used as a cleanser which helps reduce discoloration gradually.
Topical creams made up of retinol (vitamin A) or hydroquinone is prescribed to decrease the appearance of dark skin patches. You can look for a skin lightening cream which can work on the discoloration of your skin. Here are the 2 best creams for skin discoloration treatment which works best for any skin type.