Skin Discolorations

Discoloration of the skin is a common condition that can affect individuals of any age.

  • Department of:
  • Adena Regional Medical Center

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Discolorations of the skin can include hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin caused by increased melanin), melisma (a tan or dark skin discoloration), and dark spots. These conditions can be caused by a series of factors, which include overproduction of melanin in the skin, hormonal changes, growth of bacteria on the skin, and changes in blood vessels. While most discoloration is typically harmless, unusual patchiness and sudden skin discolorations can be a nuisance and may lead to frustration for individuals who develop this condition.

Discoloration Risk Factors

Certain factors increase the likelihood that individuals will develop a skin discoloration, including:

  • Overexposure to the sun
  • Heredity and genetic factors that may predispose an individual to changes of the skin color
  • Hormonal changes, including pregnancy
  • Certain prescription medications such as antibiotics, hormone treatments, and anti-seizure drugs
  • Exposure to heat and radiation

Specific medical conditions, injuries, and disorders also can cause discoloration of the skin.

Signs and Symptoms of Skin Discoloration

The primary sign of skin discoloration is the presence of patches of skin where the color is irregular. Other signs, such as the presence of newly developed moles or freckles, may indicate skin discoloration as well. Women who are pregnant may experience melasma, also known as the “pregnancy mask,” which often develops as splotchy-pigmented areas on the face due to hormonal changes.

Discoloration Diagnosis and Treatment

Various home remedies are available for those suffering from skin discoloration and include lotions that bleach or lighten the skin, helping to reduce discoloration and even skin tones. If the cause of your discoloration is unknown or bothersome, an expert with Adena Dermatology will conduct tests including scraping of skin lesions and skin biopsies to determine the cause of discoloration. We may prescribe cosmetics or lotions that either lighten or darken the skin, or may provide topical creams that protect the skin from sun damage. If a mole or a birthmark caused by discoloration appears to be threatening, a surgical procedure such as cryotherapy or lesion removal may be conducted.

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