What is Pigmentation?
Pigmentation means the colouring of the skin. A normal healthy person will have a skin colour that is as per the melanin content present in the body. Due to illness, injuries, or any other issues the skin colour may change and is called pigmentation. It is a condition where the melanin production gets affected and leads to patches on the skin. In some cases, the entire skin surface can get affected. It is most visible on the face but can also happen on any part of the body. The types of pigmentation are:
The signs and symptoms of hyperpigmentation are:
- Brown patches on the skin that can be localized or spread across all the other parts of the body.
- It is usually seen on the face. It appears on the chin, cheeks, forehead, and the bridge of the nose.
- It can also appear on the neck and the forearm.
- The patches are usually symmetrical.
Symptoms of Hypopigmentation are:
- White patches on the skin can slowly spread to all the parts of the body as in the case of Vitiligo.
- Lighter skin due to injuries, blisters, burns, or skin infections.
A visit to a dermatologist can help you know the cause if you see abnormal changes to your skin.
Who is at Risk?
Depending on whether you have hyper or hypopigmentation the risk factors are high in:
- Women using oral contraceptives and pregnant women
- People with darker skin types are more likely to have visible pigmentation changes that those with lighter skin types.
- People who consume certain types of drugs are more sensitive to sunlight.
- People who have suffered a burn or a wound risk pigmentation.
- People who have auto-immune disorders are likely to get skin pigmentation problems.
- It can be inherited from a close relative in the family as in the case of vitiligo.
The melanin content and the type in the body determines the skin colour of a person. It also determines the hair colour and the colour of the iris. There can be several reasons for pigmentation changes and can happen due to:
- Trauma or injury to the skin.
- The use of cosmetics or other skin treatments that contains chemicals causes changes in skin colour.
- Chronic conditions like the one that is present from birth can cause pigmentation.
- Excessive production of melanin in the body.
- Chemotherapy drugs and many other drugs can cause pigmentation as a side effect.
- Changes in hormones in women can affect melanin.
- Overexposure to sunlight also darkens the skin.
- Endocrine diseases like Addison’s disease can be one of the causes of Pigmentation
- Albinism, Vitiligo also changes skin colour.
How is Pigmentation Diagnosed?
A pigmentation doctor can diagnose and determine what pigmentation disorder you have. Generally, a physical exam and a medical history are enough to determine the cause. Other diagnoses are:
- During the physical examination, the doctor will check areas where there is a change in pigmentation and look for suspicious-looking moles or other such.
- The doctor also asks about the skin pigmentation of your immediate family to determine genetic conditions.
- In some cases, a skin biopsy is done by taking a small sample of skin to determine the cause.
- If the doctor suspects a skin disorder like melasma or other such disorder they may use a test called Wood’s light test where a special light is used to examine the skin.
How is Pigmentation Treated?
Pigmentation treatment depends on the cause and type. Some options include:
- Topical creams to treat cases of hyper and hypopigmentation. Using then can help in normalizing the skin pigmentation based on the cause.
- If there are dark posts, the doctor recommends medicine for pigmentation which can lighten or darken spots on the skin.
- Over the counter medications can also be taken for Pigmentation cure.
- Some conditions like vitiligo and albinism are life-long conditions. Restorative light treatments, laser therapy, and depigmentation can be done but they may wear off.
- Cosmetic surgery can be performed to restore skin pigmentation if required.
If you have skin pigmentation issues, it is best to see a dermatologist. Consult our experienced doctors at Cure.fit to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.
How can Pigmentation be Prevented?
Skin pigmentation is mostly harmless and hence even if it appears there is no need to panic. While some of the pigmentation disorders can be prevented there are others that are inherited and hence cannot be stopped. To prevent it from happening:
- Avoid picking on the skin when there is an injury, acne, spots, etc.
- Apply sunscreen using an SPF 30 or higher to prevent skin from exposure to skin.
- Drink plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated and prevent infections and acne.