Skin Pigmentation

by Sam Malone


Skin pigmentation is a condition that millions of people develop at some point or other in their lives. This natural pigmentation has many advantages in the case of brown skin. These include protection from the sun and slowing down the signs of aging. In many cases, however, skin pigmentation can cause a person social and psychological stress. Luckily, there are a number of steps you can take to do something about it. You could speak to your dermatologist about your skin pigmentation issues to figure out what are the treatment options that you have.
So, what exactly is skin pigmentation? Our skin is the largest organ in the body. It is basically made up of the epidermis and dermis. These two layers are further divided into more layers. The basal layer of the epidermis consists of organelles which are known as melanosomes, which in turn contains melanocytes which are responsible for the production of melanin.

The melanin or pigment present in your skin helps determine your skin color, be it black, dark brown, or yellow. This melanin imparts color not only to your skin, but also to the iris of your eyes and your hair. The levels of melanin are determined to a great extent by race and the amount of sunlight you are exposed to. When your skin is exposed to sunlight the production of melanin increases and provides your skin protection from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Skin pigmentation problems occur because your body produces either too much or too little melanin. When this takes place your skin tone becomes either darker or lighter. Your skin looks uneven and blotchy in many cases. Skin pigmentation could be caused by a number of reasons such as some drug reactions, auto immune conditions, and in some cases due to genetic inheritance. The main reason for skin pigmentation problems is sun damage.

Some women have skin pigmentation problems due to hormonal changes. Skin pigmentation changes could be caused by hormonal treatment that you may be undergoing or some birth control pills you may be taking. Sometimes the skin pigment production increases locally, thus causing skin pigmentation problems. These problems are manifested as moles, age spots, liver spots, or hyper pigmentation after there is some damage to your skin locally. Sometimes skin pigmentation is seen as freckles. Freckles are caused when melanin gets unevenly released.

So, what are the skin pigmentation conditions that can affect people? Here is a list of conditions that occur:

  • Hypo pigmentation: This condition occurs when sufficient melanin is not produced by your body. Sometimes there is loss of pigment in certain areas of your skin once any ulcers, infection, or burn heals. The melanocytes which are found in the lower most layer of the epidermis get depleted and this results in the amino acid, tyrosine's decrease. The production of melanin which is produced with the help of this amino acid is therefore affected.
  • Albinism: Albinism results from some recessive trait that is inherited. People suffering from albinism have little or no melanin in their skin, eyes or hair. Although most patients who have albinism are fair complexioned, skin or hair color is not the only criterion to diagnose albinism. Albinism has no cure and those suffering from albinism must use a sunscreen at all times.
  • Vitiligo: Vitiligo is a type of hypo pigmentation that takes place when the melanocytes present in the skin are destroyed. Due to this the skin on different parts of the body develops white patches. The sensitivity of these white patches to the sun is high. The mucous membrane and retina also develop similar patches.
  • Hyper Pigmentation: This is a condition which is caused by excess melanin being produced by the body. Due to this some patches of skin turn darker as compared to the surrounding skin. Aging spots, moles, and birthmarks indicate hyper pigmentation as well.
  • Lichen Simplex Chronicus: People suffering from this skin pigmentation problem also have patches of skin that are dark, and it is accompanied with severe itching. Care has to be taken as this may cause infection or permanent scarring if not treated.
  • Melasma: A skin discoloration that appears on the areas of the face that are exposed to the sun. The female problems progesterone and estrogen are usually associated with this problem. It is commonly found in women who are pregnant, women who are on pills for birth control, and menopausal women who are being treated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
  • Birthmarks: Birthmarks are generally risk free and appear soon after birth, or in the following weeks. Birthmarks are generally non-cancerous. However, it is important that infants with abnormally colored skin or birthmarks are thoroughly examined by a physician.
  • Port-wine Stains: A port-wine stain is a birthmark wherein a blood vessel that is swollen causes a reddish-purplish skin discoloration. Three out of thousand people are affected by port-wine stains. In the earlier stages these stains are pink and flat in appearance. Various treatments have been tried to treat port-wine stains. These include radiation, freezing, dermabrasion, and scarring. However, as compared to all these, laser treatment is the only method that destroys the capillaries without damaging the rest of the skin.

Diagnosis

If you think that the abnormalities you have noticed in your skin are skin pigmentation diseases, it is best that you visit a physician and get an official diagnosis done. A dermatologist will help in diagnosing the type of skin pigmentation you have. This is done with the help of some simple tests and a visual examination. Skin pigmentation, in most cases, reflects on the individual's outer experience and does not indicate any other underlying risks to an individual's health. In some cases though, the dermatologist will order a biopsy to find out if the growth is cancerous.

Remedies

People who suffer from skin pigmentation problems generally use a sunscreen and avoid staying out in the sun for long. Skin pigmentation creams are easily available in the market to take care of hyper pigmentation disorders. Itching that is caused due to skin pigmentation can be alleviated with the help of topical steroid creams.

Glycolic acid peels help in reducing the problems caused by skin pigmentation. Microdermabrasion also helps exfoliate the layers of your skin that are upper-most and also clear the dark areas in the process. Before going in for such procedures it is best that you check the credentials of the person who is performing the procedure and make sure that he has both the experience and qualifications to conduct the procedures. Cosmetics that are hypoallergenic also help cover skin that is blotchy and uneven. It is important that you learn how to apply makeup skillfully, as this would help cover the areas that are affected.

Home Remedies

Onion Juice: Take equal parts of apple cider vinegar and onion juice and apply this to your skin with the help of a cotton ball. Continue doing this for a few weeks and see the results. As an alternative you could dip a cut slice of onion in vinegar and apply it to the affected area. This works great for age spots and melasma.

Vinegar: Water and vinegar diluted equally together could be used to clean and rinse your face. Air drying it will help seal in the moisture. This combination of vinegar and water can also be used in the place of a toner or astringent. Chemically, vinegar is acetic acid and helps making your skin white and bright. Your skin also becomes more radiant and smoother. People sometimes use white vinegar that is distilled instead of apple cider or natural vinegars which are recommended.

Lemon Juice: Take the juice of a fresh lemon and apply it to the area that is affected by pigmentation. It has an acidic effect on your skin and helps in peeling off the top layer of the skin. The age spots or melasma gradually fades away.

Sometimes skin pigmentation is a result of a deficiency of Vitamin D and Vitamin E. It is important that you increase the intake of these vitamins or take some additional supplements. Please check with your doctor before you take any supplements. Include foods such as liver, carrots, sweet potatoes, cheese, egg yolks, almonds and blueberries in your diet.

Take some raw potato and grate it, then squeeze the juice and evenly apply on your face. Rinse this off after 15 minutes or so. This is an excellent skin lightener and can help lessen skin pigmentation. To sum up, skin pigmentation is a problem that causes certain sections of your skin to darken excessively, or in some cases lose color. This happens due to various reasons, and it is important that you understand how it is caused to be able to treat it effectively. There are a number of treatments that are available to treat skin pigmentation which range from the application of pigmentation treatment creams to remedies which you can try out at home.


Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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