Whether you’re black or white, young or old, it is melanin that is responsible for giving your skin its colour. Melanin is produced by melanocytes, which is found in the skin’s epidermis. When these cells fail to manufacture enough melanin or become overactive and increase melanin production, discoloration of the skin can occur.
• Darkened skin: Darkened skin or hyperpigmentation is a result of the melanocytes producing more melanin than they should.
Hyperpigmentation can either affect an entire region of the skin or concentrate on one spot producing freckles and moles. Overexposure to the sun is often the main reason for this type of skin discoloration.
• Pale or whitened skin: While too much sun exposure to the sun may cause hyperpigmentation, the lack of it can result to paleness or whitening of the skin, also known as hyperpigmentation. There are many reasons to this type of discoloration including diseases such as Vitiligo, Albinism, and Tinea Versicolor.
• Coloured skin: Unlike hyperpigmentation and hyperpigmentation, most of the causes of coloured skin results from a reaction that takes place from within the body. With this condition, the skin may turn yellow, red, orange, or even blue.
Reason for discoloured skin
Discoloured skin is one of the many health concerns especially of people who are already in their prime. You can say that it is a normal sign of ageing. But sometimes, what you believe to be a reaction of the skin to temperature or to some medication can already be a result of an underlying skin disease.
Possible causes of discoloured skin
Vitiligo (white spots on skin): This chronic skin condition takes place as the melanocytes die out or malfunction. This results to white skin patches in the fingers, hands, or even the entire body.
Vitiligo can happen to anyone of any age but research says such incidence affects less than one percent of the population world-wide.
• Melasma: A common skin condition among pregnant women, Melasma is the formation of irregular patches usually in the facial area. Stress or allergic reactions to certain oral medication usually cause this.
• Rosacea: While Rosacea can affect anyone, it is usually a skin condition of Caucasians or fair skinned people. It is characterised by the redness of the face particularly in the central region affecting the area around the eyes, forehead, nose and lower chin. It can also appear on the cheeks and rarely on the neck.
• Tinea Versicolor: A chronic condition very similar to Vitiligo but usually affects the underarm, upper arm, chest, back, legs, and neck. Unlike Vitiligo, however, Tinea Versicolor is caused by yeast infection.
Other diseases that cause skin discoloration
• venous stasis,
• liver disease,
• cyanotic heart disease,
• crohn’s disease,
• skin cancer.
Other factors that can lead to poor skin health and eventually to skin disorders include smoking, drinking, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and sleep disorders. Exposure to bad environments can also contribute to such skin problems.
What you can do about it
For some skin diseases, the use of oral or topical medication is usually enough to eliminate the problem.
For incurable diseases however, the best you can do is to try several treatment procedures to improve your condition. Such treatments include the use of corticosteroid cream to “reverse” the effects of the disease. Laser treatment is available to those who want to try an advanced procedure.