You might have noticed patches of discolored skin, which are quite common and have many different causes. These skin discoloration could be because of birthmarks, pigmentation disorders, infections, and rashes. Most of these causes are harmless, but others might require medical attention.
Human skin contains melanin, the pigment responsible for giving the skin its color. Having more melanin will make your skin darker, while less will result in lighter skin. Melanin is also responsible for your eye and hair color.
Discolored skin is easily noticeable because they differ from your normal skin tone. They might be lighter, darker, or a different color, such as gray, red, or blue.
People with such symptoms must understand the root cause of their discolored skin patches in case treatment is necessary.
This article explores the various causes of discolored skin and explains which of them require treatment.
Skin Discoloration Due to Birthmarks
Birthmarks are discoloration of your skin that people have when they are born. Some types of these birthmarks fade away with time, while others may be permanent.
Birthmarks could be vascular or pigmented. Vascular birthmarks are usually red and occur due to abnormal blood vessels in the skin.
Types of vascular birthmark
- Strawberry nevus. Also known as hemangioma, it is a common type of vascular birthmark. They appear as red patches and are most common on the face, chest, scalp, and back. A strawberry nevus does not normally require treatment.
- Salmon patch. Also known as nevus simplex, they are flat red or pink patches that typically occur on your neck or forehead. More than 40 percent of all babies have this type of birthmark when they are born.
- Port-wine stain. This is a noticeable flat purple or red birthmark. Some port wine stains might require treatment. Treatment might include laser treatment or cosmetic camouflage.
Pigmented birthmarks are often white, blue, brown, or gray. They result when there is a problem with the melanin in your skin.
Types of pigmented birthmark
- Mongolian blue spots. These are grey or blue patches that may be present on your back and buttocks during birth. Babies who have darker skin tones are more likely to have these birthmarks. Mongolian blue spots often fade as the baby grows.
- Moles. These are brown or black spots that are usually harmless. However, it is best to consult a doctor if your mole changes size, shape, or texture.
- Café-au-lait spot. These appear as light brown skin discoloration on light skin or black coffee-colored patches on darker skin tones. Café-au-lait spots are often oval-shaped and might fade away as the baby grows.
Skin Discoloration Due to Skin Pigmentation Disorders
If an individual has lighter or darker skin patches, this might signify a skin pigmentation disorder. Type of skin pigmentation disorder are as follows:
Vitiligo. This disease can affect any part of your body. The melanin-producing cells known as melanocytes stop working correctly, which results in patches of lighter skin.
Sometimes, the disease can also change a person’s hair color. The exact cause of vitiligo is still unknown, but experts believe the problem with the immune system might be responsible.
Melasma. A common skin condition that typically affects facial skin and causes brown patches on the skin. It mostly affects women more often than men. Sun exposure and hormonal changes often trigger melasma.
Albinism. People with albinism disorder do not produce enough melanin. This could lead to little or no pigment in the skin, eyes, or hair. Albinism is a genetic disorder, meaning that a person could inherit a faulty gene from their parents.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation. This condition arises when there is a temporary increase or decrease in skin pigment. It often happens following skin trauma, such as a burn or blister.
Skin Discoloration Due to Skin Rashes
Some types of skin rash might also cause patches of discolored skin. These could be:
- Rosacea. A chronic skin condition caused by raised patches of red skin and pus-filled lesions. It usually affects the cheeks, forehead, and nose.
- Psoriasis. A skin condition that causes crusty, silvery-red, flaky patches of skin, which might appear anywhere on your body. Doctors believe that psoriasis results from a problem with the immune system.
- Contact dermatitis. This rash appears when the skin reacts to an irritant or allergen.
- Eczema. This is also called atopic dermatitis. This condition can cause patches of red skin that could be itchy, dry, and cracked. These patches might sometimes ooze and then form a crust. Though the cause of eczema is unclear, it can run in families and is more common in people who have hay fever, asthma, and other allergies.
Skin Discoloration Due to Skin Infection
Certain types of skin infections might also cause discoloration, like:
- Ringworm. Also known as tinea, a fungal skin infection that causes silver or red ring-shaped patches on the skin. These patches may be dry, scaly, or itchy. Ringworm can appear on any part of the body, including the scalp, feet, groin, hands, and nails.
- Tinea versicolor. This is a fungal skin infection that might cause patches of skin to become lighter or darker. These patches develop slowly and can sometimes merge to form larger patches. Tinea versicolor tends to affect your neck, trunk, and upper arms.
- Candidiasis of the skin. This is also a fungal skin infection that causes red, itchy skin patches. It often occurs in areas where your skin folds, such as the groin or armpits.
Skin Discoloration Due to Skin Cancers
In only rare cases, skin cancer can cause patches of discoloration. Types of skin cancer could be:
- Actinic keratosis. These are scaly, dry, precancerous skin patches. Without treatment, they might progress to squamous cell carcinoma.
- Basal cell carcinoma. These are pearl-like, flesh-colored, pink skin patches or bumps. Basal cell carcinomas are the most commonly known form of skin cancer.
- Melanoma. This cancer might develop in existing moles or might appear as new dark spots. Melanomas are the most severe form of skin cancer. Hence they should be diagnosed early, and prompt treatment is crucial.
- Squamous cell carcinoma. These are red bumps, sores, or scaly patches, which might heal and then re-open. Squamous cell carcinomas are the second most common type of skin cancer.
Treatment Skin Discoloration
The treatment for discolored skin solely depends on the cause. If an individual has an underlying health condition, your doctor will recommend the best course of treatment for that condition.
When your doctor treats the underlying condition, it might resolve any associated skin problems.
If the underlying cause is skin cancer, then the person should have the treatment as soon as possible.
Skin pigmentation disorders and birthmarks do not usually require treatment. However, some people choose to have treatment for cosmetic reasons. Treatment options include chemical peels, laser treatment, and topical creams.
Castor oil (castor oil benefits are numerous) and lemon juice may also help to reduce the appearance of discolored skin patches. Alternatively, people can also use makeup to camouflage the affected skin.
What is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is a specific condition of the skin that causes skin discoloration. Your skin gets darkened primarily caused by the overproduction of melanin, a skin pigment.
This condition is common in both genders belonging to any ethnic group, especially in people with light complexions. Hyperpigmentation is mostly a harmless condition but it might become a symptom of illness or any disease.
Many are concerned about this condition because of its aesthetic implications, as it disturbs them and causes stress and anxiety.
How to Treat Hyperpigmentation?
Prescription and Cosmeceuticals Skin Care
Broad Spectrum Sunscreen: Your doctor would recommend using broad-spectrum sunscreen like SPF 30 and above during sun exposure. This sunscreen will prevent any further skin damage due to UV rays exposure.
Hydroquinone and Kojic Acid: These are very effective cosmeceutical skin lightener products. Hydroquinone is also referred to as the ‘Gold Standard’ for treating hyperpigmentation. Kojic acid offers similar results to that of hydroquinone and is even better if used in combination with hydroquinone and glycolic acid.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids: These products exfoliate skin and smooth out your skin and increase the cell turnover while giving an even skin tone.
Vitamin A products: These products include Retinol and Tretinoin that helps in skin rejuvenation and resurfacing. They also help to increase the turnover of cells.
Skin peels for hyperpigmentation treatment give enhanced results when other topical therapies are unable to provide the desired results. Chemical skin peels contain essential and natural skincare ingredients like Lactic, Glycolic, and Salicylic acid, which helps in skin resurfacing.
This chemical peel treatment might also be used along with other topical therapies to achieve optimal results. Chemical skin peels are available in varying strengths and depths to suit different skin types.
Microneedling uses a special device to rejuvenate your skin and improve pigmentation gently. This treatment helps in the reduction of pigmentation by increasing cell turnover. During the treatment, powerful antioxidants and skin brighteners are infused into your skin for enhanced results.
Visit Us at REPC
Affiliated REPC offers a wide range of corrective treatments such as microneedling and chemical peels that work wonders to correct your uneven skin tone. Whatever method you choose, REPC is here to offer you tips and solutions to achieve the bright, even skin tone you desire.