Pigmentation Disorders

The skin is an organ just like any other. Changes in pigmentation can occur due to genetics, skin trauma or damage and other bodily changes such as pregnancy. Most have straightforward causes but some do not.Types of Skin Pigmentation Disorders

* Albinism – This is caused by a recessive gene in the body that we all have. Albinism occurs in all species. In humans, it results in a lack of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes resulting in a whitening of these areas. It can occur in any race. The lack of pigment makes the person more susceptible to skin cancers and sun damage to the skin.

* Melasma – have you heard of the “mask of pregnancy”? That is melasma. Brown patches begin to show up on all areas of the face. Men can also have this type of skin pigmentation separate from pregnancy. They often fade in women after delivery but if they do not, dermatologists may choose to treat it with skin-lightening creams to help reduce the variation in skin color.

* Vitiligo – this disorder is caused by a problem with the skin. The cells that produce melanin in the skin are damaged and lead to areas of the body that lack pigment. The exact cause of the malfunction in the melanocytes is not known but trauma to the skin may be to blame. You can’t regenerate the cells or cause them to work again, but medical treatments can lighten the area around the spots to blend them in with the rest of the skin.

* Burns – when the skin suffers first, second or third degree burns, the cells that produce melanin may be destroyed. This can result in pigmentation problem as the skin regenerates. Areas that were one filled with color are now pink. While the choices for medical treatment are limited, cosmetics may be used to cover the areas and blend them in with the normal skin tone.

* Infections – changes in skin can occur due to infections like acne. Once it is cleared up, discolorations may be left behind. These can be treated with prescription creams, cosmetic treatments like dermabrasion or make-up.