Your skin’s overall pigmentation, or coloring, is caused by melonocyte skin cell production of melanin. The more melanin produced, the darker the pigment of your skin. And vice versa.
Melanocytes are scattered throughout the top layer of your skin, or epidermis. The melanin they produce then spreads to nearby skin cells.
If your skin is exposed to sunlight, then melanocytes produce more melanin. Thus, yielding that brown pigmented appearance, or tan.
If something happens to the health of your melonocyte cells, melanin production and your pigment is affected. Pigmentation problems may be a cause for color changes to a patch of skin or your entire body.
Hyperpigmentation, increased pigment, or hypopigmentation, decreased pigment, can be influenced by:
Hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation can last months or even years.
Some causes for pigment problems, skin health conditions and underlying diseases that can alter your skin color appearance are:
- liver spots
- lichen planus
- pityriasis alba
- ashy dermatosis
- sunburn, sun tan
- cafe au lait spots
- Addison’s disease
- seborrheic keratosis
- acanthosis nigricans
- mongolian blue spots
- oral contraceptive use
- incontinentia pigmenti
- xeroderma pigmentosum
- end stage kidney disease
- McCune-Albright syndrome
- progressive pigmentary purpura
- skin infections, blisters, burns, acne
- tinea versicolor ~ fungal skin infection
Naturally hypopigmented folks are more sensitive to sun exposure and damage, which boosts their risk for these skin cancers:
Pigmented problem treatments, best sought from a health care professional, include:
Skin lightening creams that contain hydroquinone and retinoic acid can help treat dark pigmented patches. Tolnaftate treats tinea versicolor pigment issue.
And a pigmented treatment used by some is hiding their skin pigment problems with a tattoo.