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What Causes Skin Discoloration: Five Common Causes


Based on research, one out of three Americans suffer from skin conditions. The most common is cancer.

Skin discoloration refers to lighter or darker marking on the skin. The skin contains melanin which is responsible for color. Melanin may sometimes increase or decrease, leading to the discoloration of the skin.

Changes in the color of your skin may be part of your aging process and may affect large or small areas of your skin. There are several responses to what causes skin discoloration. The most common causes of skin patches include injury, illness, sunburn, and inflammatory problems.

Discolored patches come in many forms. Birthmarks, rashes, pigmentation defects, and infections are some of them. Although some are normal skin reactions, some may require medical treatment.

What causes skin discoloration? This article discusses five common causes of skin discoloration.

1. Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a chronic skin disease that causes pale white patches on different areas of the skin. These white patches often occur on the neck, hands, face, and creases of the skin.

This condition results from the malfunction or destruction of melanin cells. It’s an autoimmune disease since the immune system attacks the body’s healthy tissues.

Vitiligo begins with a pale patch that gradually turns completely white. The patch may also have an entirely white center with pale skin surrounding it.

The condition is different from person to person. In some instances, there are a lot of patches, while in others, there are fewer and smaller.

Although vitiligo does not cause any harm, some people opt to seek skin discoloration treatment. This does not cure it but may cover up some of the patches.

2. Sunburn

Sunburns are inflammatory reactions to ultraviolet rays from the sun. Prolonged exposure to the sun causes damage to the skin’s outermost layers.

Melanin is responsible for darkening the unprotected, sun-exposed parts of your skin. However, people have different levels of melanin, which causes skin discoloration.

Exposure to the sun makes some people tan while others get sunburns. Less melanin under unprotected sun exposure leads to reddening and swelling skin cells.

Sunburns may cause your skin to peel, which is sometimes very painful. Sunburns also lead to hastened aging, melanoma, and in extreme cases, cancer.

It's best to shield yourself from sun exposure using effective sunscreens or covering your skin while outside.

3. Birthmarks

These are skin patches that you are born with. Birthmarks may fade with age; however, this is not always the case.

Birthmarks come in different colors - brown, black, gray, or even blue. They also come in varying shapes and sizes depending on the type of birthmark.

The two major types of birthmarks are pigmented and vascular. The latter occurs when blood vessels fail to form correctly, ending up too wide or too many. On the other hand, pigmented birthmarks happen when there is an overgrowth of pigment-producing cells.

Moles, lait spots, and Mongolian blue spots are examples of pigmented birthmarks. There are salmon patches, port wine stains, and hemangiomas for vascular birthmarks.

Most birthmarks don’t pose any health risk, but some may cause problems in the future. In this case, you may decide to have them surgically removed or perform laser therapy.

4. Melasma

Melasma is one of the conditions that cause skin discoloration. This skin condition is also known as chloasma, characterized by blue-gray or brown patches. These patches mostly appear on the forehead, nose, chin, and cheeks.

Women are more likely to develop this condition as compared to men since it’s mainly hormonal. However, it may also result from prolonged exposure to the sun.

Melasma commonly affects pregnant women and people with darker skin tones. It tends to fade on its own after the pregnancy period.

Birth control pills and hormonal therapy can also trigger melasma. Thyroid and stress are other factors that can cause melasma.

Hyperpigmentation is the main sign of melasma. These are darker patches of skin that may form surrounding a certain area of skin.

The best way to prevent melasma is by protecting yourself from the sun and covering your skin from sun rays.

5. Dermatitis

Dermatitis is a general term that describes a common skin inflammation. Although it’s not contagious, it causes the skin to blister, itch, crust, or flake off.

There are three common types of dermatitis - contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis or eczema, and seborrheic dermatitis. Each type of dermatitis affects a specific part of your body.

Dermatitis is mainly caused by genetics, environmental triggers, and immune system activation. Sometimes, your immune system tends to overreact, and small irritants may trigger it.

Contact dermatitis is caused by contact with substances that you may be allergic to.

Dry skin is the leading cause of eczema, and it’s mainly genetic. This means there are high chances of contracting the disease if one of your family members was previously affected.

Seborrheic dermatitis mostly affects the scalp and other oily parts of the body. It’s caused by excessive Malassezia yeast in the body.

You can treat mild cases of dermatitis through home remedies such as moisturizing and cold compressing your skin.

What Causes Skin Discoloration

Skin discoloration is normal and doesn't necessarily mean anything is wrong with you. It may fade away with time, but sometimes it's permanent.

There are a lot of reasons for what causes skin discoloration. Birthmarks and other discolored skin patches pose no health risk and don’t require any treatment.

However, some, such as cyanosis and skin cancer, need immediate treatment. Skin treatment depends on the cause and the intensity of the condition.

It’s possible to prevent skin patches such as sunburn and melasma by protecting yourself from sun exposure.

It’s also easy to live with other skin discolorations though you may decide to treat them for cosmetic reasons.

At Laser spot, we offer various cosmetic services to help you treat your skin. Reach out to us now for skin rejuvenation and other services.


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