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Skin Discoloration

ClearlyDerm / Medical Dermatology / Skin Discoloration

What is skin discoloration?

Skin discoloration is a common condition, and causes the skin to become darker (hyperpigmentation), reddened, develop flat patches of lighter skin, in certain areas. Causes of skin discoloration include sun exposure, pregnancy, endocrine diseases, and skin inflammation, certain fungal infections, among others.

Lighter-skinned individuals are generally at greater risk for discoloration and skin cancer. Common forms of skin discoloration include Melasma, Sunspots, Hyperpigmentation, and Freckles.

Melasma
Light to medium brown in color, this pigmentation occurs on the cheeks, sides of the face, upper part of the nose, forehead and above the lip. It appears as splotchy patches that are inconsistent in shape and size, and is caused by a surge in hormones, usually from pregnancy or birth control coupled with sun exposure. Melasma can be treated with: hydroquinone and Retin-A; salicylic or glycolic acid peels; Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) plus vitamin C. (Melasma is hard to treat because of its potential to reoccur.)

Sunspots (AKA Age or Liver Spots)
Light to dark brown in color, sunspots can appear on the face, chest and hands; and look like small, flat, dark spots. As their name indicates, they are caused by the sun and can be treated with Retinol+IPL or fractional laser resurfacing.

Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Pink, red or brown in color, PIH can show up anywhere on the face. It appears as flat spots and is caused by inflammatory acne. PIH can be treated with light salicylic acid chemical peels or red light and blue light treatments (if there is active acne).

Freckles
Caused by the sun, freckles are light to dark brown or even red or black in color. They occur on the face, chest and arms in the form of small, concentrated spots. For treatment try the Sciton Laser.