Unwanted skin discoloration, or hypopigmentation/hyperpigmentation, can make a person self-conscious and less confident about their appearance. Many of these issues may be reduced or eliminated with simple office treatments, and Dr. Lina Naga and Dr. Terrence Keaney of SkinDC in Washington DC, are experienced in treating skin discolorations using a variety of techniques. Call today for a consultation on the best treatments for your skin.
Skin color issues usually trace back to the pigment-producing cells in the skin. The pigment in the skin is called melanin, and the cells that produce it are called melanocytes. For example, vitiligo — the loss of skin color, usually in blotchy patches — occurs when the cells responsible for the creation of melanin stop functioning. Another condition, called melasma, causes gray-brown and brown patches, typically on the face and other parts of the body that receive sun exposure. Melasma may stem from melanocytes producing too much color. Melanocytes replicating in one area are the cause behind moles, whether raised, flat, brown, pink or blue-grey. Why moles occur in some individuals rather than others is still not completely understood. Sunspots also result from changes in skin pigment due to sun exposure.
In cases where sun exposure is the main contributor to the condition, aggressive and consistent use of sun protection methods are the best defense. Avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. reduces ultraviolet light exposure, even in the winter and on cloudy days. While using sunscreen does not filter out all UV radiation, it is an excellent protection strategy. Protective clothing is also extremely helpful. Choose darker colors with long sleeves and long pants and add a wide-brimmed hats for extra measure. Specialized clothing with a labeled Sun Protection Factor (SPF) are becoming widely available. Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays are also an important part of sun protection.
Some medications can make the skin more sensitive to light, so it is important to check for these side effects in any medication you take regularly.
There are many ways to improve skin discoloration. The treatment that will work best in each case depends on several factors, such as skin type and color, the type of discoloration, as well as its shade, severity, and etiology. In some cases, a single treatment method may be sufficient, while other problems may respond better to a combination of treatments.
Knowing the underlying cause of the discoloration is often key to effective treatment. For people with mild discoloration, topical treatments may be advised. Superficial chemical peels may offer improvements, as do intense pulsed light and some laser therapies. Those with more severe discoloration may require more aggressive treatment, such as stronger chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and some lasers.