Post-inflammatory hypopigmentation is a loss of skin color (pigmentation) after your skin heals from an injury. The pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) are damaged or destroyed in the healing process.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is darkening of the skin in an area of prior injury or skin disorder from increased pigment (melanin) left from the healing process. Sometimes the darkening may also be due to an iron pigment left behind when old red blood cells die. Acne is a common cause as well as any type of skin injury (scrapes, cuts, burns, insect bites, or chronic rubbing) or many other skin disorders, such as eczema (atopic dermatitis).
Melasma is a common disorder of unknown cause that causes dark (hyperpigmented) patches, primarily on the face. The condition is marked by brown patches that worsen in response to increases of the hormone estrogen, such as during pregnancy or with the use of birth control pills. Other medications, such as anti-seizure medications, may also cause melasma. Increased sun exposure can also be a cause.
Acanthosis nigricans is a condition characterized by abnormal thickening and darkening of the skin, especially in body creases. It is most commonly associated with obesity or polycystic ovarian disease in women, though acanthosis nigricans can occasionally be found in people who have more serious underlying health problems or who are taking certain medications. Treatment of the underlying medical condition usually resolves the skin lesions.
Lentigo simplex is a type of color-containing (pigmented) lesion not caused by sun exposure, which looks like the freckle-like condition (lentigo) caused by sun exposure (solar lentigo). In both conditions, an increased number of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) are present. Lentigo simplex can occur anywhere on the body, including areas that are not exposed to sunlight. Multiple lentigos are associated with several inherited syndromes, but lentigo simplex can also occur as a single lesion. Single lesions often develop on the lips or on the gums. Lesions may be caused by some forms of ultraviolet light therapy. If this is the case, the lesion may be seen as identical to those caused by exposure to sunlight.
Pityriasis alba is a common noncancerous (benign) skin condition affecting children. It appears as light-colored patches, especially on the cheeks.Although the condition typically lasts 1 year or more without treatment, pityriasis alba usually resolves after puberty or by the time the child reaches adulthood.The exact cause of pityriasis alba is unknown, though triggers may include:Heat Humidity Heavily scented detergents or soaps Abrasive clothing Smoke Stress
A café au lait macule (CALM) is a well-defined, flat area that is darker in color than the rest of the skin (hyperpigmented). The term refers to the characteristic even (homogeneous) color of "coffee with milk," which may be light to dark brown. Café au lait macules usually appear first in early childhood, although they may be present at birth. They may be single or multiple, and they increase in size as the person gets older. Café au lait macules can be indicators of more extensive (multisystem) disease, particularly neurofibromatosis, a condition that is also marked by freckles in the armpit and groin regions, as well as neurofibromas.
Q: Can hypopigmentation on the arms that has been present for about 10 years still leave one’s skin? A: Hypopigmentation is the loss of color in the skin, and the contrast of the light spots is especially more noticeable after months in the summer sun, when the rest of your skin may be darker. If your pale spots have not changed in size over 10 years and are small, it is probably a common and benign condition that is actually a type of scarring, and which is not likely to disappear without treatment.
As summer tans fade, we may see remnants on our skin of those happy hours spent in the sun. That is because the cells (melanocytes) that produce skin tone or pigment (melanin) are stimulated by sun exposure to produce more melanin. Excess melanin can cause visibly uneven areas of darker skin, a condition called hyperpigmentation. Conversely, other areas may lose melanin, resulting in pale or white spots, a condition called hypopigmentation.
Q: I don’t like the age spots that are starting to appear on my face. What can I do about them? A: So-called “age spots” are actually "sun spots.” Patches of uneven pigmentation affect many people and occur because the body distributes either too much or too little melanin (the pigment that creates skin, eye, and hair color) to an area. Uneven pigmentation results in a mottled appearance and can occur at different life stages, regardless of ethnic background or skin color.
In this two-part series we continue to cover various prescribed methods for evening out skin tones. Part 1 looked at hydroquinone and mequinol. Part 2 covers azelaic acid, corticosteroids, and more. Azelaic Acid: Treat both acne and pigmentation disorders This medication works wonders for acne, destroying acne-causing bacteria before they have the chance to cause outbreaks. An additional benefit is that it is a very effective treatment for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, much of which is caused by acne outbreaks. So it works on two levels – improves acne and some of the pigmentation disorders that appear with it.
Many of my patients, particularly women aged 20 to 50, are concerned about the same thing – a “mask” of mottled skin on the tops of the cheeks and temples. This common (and benign) condition is called melasma, a Greek derivation meaning “dark pigmentation of the skin.” Melasma can happen to anybody, but it is more common among darker-skinned people and those who tan easily.
Q: I have never had a chemical peel and would like to try one, but I am afraid of the thought of acid on my face. Should I be worried? A: Chemical peels can improve and smooth the texture of facial skin by removing damaged outer layers and can be helpful in treating dull facial texture and color, fine wrinkles around the eyes and mouth, uneven pigmentation (solar lentigines, or “sun spots”), melasma, mild acne, and even precancerous lesions (ie, actinic keratoses).
Imagine the carefree feeling of being beach-ready all year. With the information I shared last year on laser therapy and the information I’m about to share here on summer skin, that carefree feeling is definitely possible for you to achieve this year! Last November I wrote the second in a series of posts on laser therapy. The beginning of summertime and warmer weather provides the perfect opportunity to wrap up the series on laser therapy and at the same time introduce a new series of posts I call Summer Skin Fitness.
Considering cosmetic dermatology? Take your time in learning about and evaluating procedures, especially those that make permanent changes. For example, I see many people who get permanent eyeliner-type tattoos and want to know how to get them removed 3 or 4 years later. Although some are delighted with permanent cosmetic procedures, ideally you should consider something that lasts at most 2 years. Most treatments that we offer last 6–12 months.