January 19, 2010

Hypopigmentation Treatment

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

The term pigmentation refers to the color of your skin. A natural substance called melanin gives color to your skin and hair. The higher the amount of melanin present in your body, the darker your skin and hair are likely to be. Darkening of the skin because of an excess of melanin is known as hyper-pigmentation and the lack of natural color due to lower levels of melanin in the skin is referred to as skin de-pigmentation or hypopigmentation. There are mainly three types of hypopigmentation that can affect people and these are:

  • Vitiligo, an autoimmune skin disorder that causes smooth, white patches to appear on the skin all over the body. This condition occurs when the pigment-producing cells in the body are damaged and there is no cure for it.
  • Albinism, a rare, inherited skin disorder that occurs due to the absence of a melanin-producing enzyme. This condition causes total absence of pigmentation in the skin, eyes and hair. Albinism is more common in whites, but can affect people of all races. There is no cure for this disorder.
  • Loss of pigmentation can occur from skin damage or injury, which could include blisters, burns, scrapes, acne and infections. The absence of pigmentation in such instances is generally temporary; however, it could take a long time for the skin to re-pigment.

Hypopigmetation is neither serious, nor dangerous, but is irreversible in most instances. Nevertheless, it is important to get this disorder treated or it could increase the risks of other skin problems, like cancer.


Hypopigmentation usually occurs as a result of trauma or damage to the skin. Any wound on the skin could result in temporary or permanent skin discoloration. Given below are some of the other causes of hypopigmentation –

  • Appearance of a rash
  • Excessive exposure to heat, heavy metals or radiation
  • Family history of pigmentation problems
  • Fluctuations in hormone levels
  • Fungal infections that affect the skin, such as tinea versicolor
  • Increased sensitivity to the sun in reaction to certain medication or drugs
  • Inflammatory skin disorders like seborrheic dermatitis
  • Overgrowth of bacteria on the surface of the skin
  • Skin re-surfacing treatments that have not been administered properly
  • Sunburn or excessive sun exposure
  • Uneven application of sunscreen on the skin

Strangely, some of the factors mentioned above could also lead to an overproduction of melanin in the skin. It is best to consult a doctor and identify the cause of discoloration, so that it can be treated accordingly.


Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition and the treatments are also limited. Depending upon the cause of the problem, the treatment options that may be adopted include:

  • Topical corticosteroids and creams
  • Light or laser treatment
  • Skin grafting surgery
  • Microdermabrasion and chemical peels

The doctor may also prescribe topical medication like hydroquinone and other skin lightening agents, for bleaching those parts of the skin that have not been affected by pigmentation problems

While there is no definite way of preventing hypopigmentation, there are a few steps you can take, to reduce its risks. Given below are a few simple precautionary steps to prevent hypopigmentation:

  • Taking good care of your skin, by cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing it regularly
  • Protecting your skin from the harsh rays of the sun by applying a good sun block
  • Getting acne and other skin problems treated without any delay

These steps only reduce your chances of developing of hypopigmentation and other skin problems. However, if you suspect that you may be suffering from or are at a high risk of hypopigmentation, do consult your doctor about it immediately.


  1. Reszko A, Sukal S, Geronemus R. “Reversal of Laser-Induced Hypopigmentation with a Narrow Band UVB Light Source in a Patient with Skin Type VI”. Dermatol Surg. 34:1-4. 2008