Skin Discoloration

Why is My Skin Discolored?

Skin discoloration occurs for a variety of reasons ranging from minor cosmetic concerns to serious medical issues. From injuries and lesions to congenital defects and sun damage, skin discoloration can cause concern and psychological issues for individuals suffering from patches of skin or dark spots that do not match the surrounding areas. Discoloration is caused by a difference in melanin levels. Melanin provides color to the skin and it can be overproduced or underproduced. In some cases, persistent redness may also indicate a medical condition.

  • Illness
  • Injury
  • Inflammation
  • Albinism
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Vitiligo
  • Oral Contraceptive Usage
  • Sun Exposure
  • Medication & Allergic Reactions
  • Lamellar Ichthyosis

Skin Burns, Infections, and Birthmarks

Burns: Sunburns and thermal burns can damage and destroy skin cells. During the healing process, new skin or scar tissue may not develop with the same color.

Infections: Skin may turn red, white, purple, black, or other colors when bacterial, viral, or fungal infections enter a wound.

Autoimmune Diseases: Lupus, Grave’s disease, eczema, and many other immune system diseases may cause the skin to change color. Skin may lighten, darken, or become reddened or otherwise discolored.

Hormonal Changes: Pregnancy melasma (the “mask of pregnancy”), menopause, usage of hormonal birth control, and diseases that affect hormone levels may trigger the skin to change color as estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate.

Birthmarks: These discolored skin spots develop around the time of birth and include moles, Mongolian spots, and port wine stains.

Skin Cancer: Genetic material within skin cells may become damaged and result in changes in skin tone, color, and texture.

New Skin Growths and Mole Changes

Normal skin changes color very slightly from day to day, and even several times within the day. If a lasting change occurs, a new mole or skin growth appears, or an existing spot changes its appearance, consult your dermatologist. If an underlying condition is suspected, the skin can be examined and treated as necessary.

Treatments for Discolored Skin

The cause of your discolored skin will determine which treatment will be optimal. If an underlying medical condition exists, it will be addressed first. Laser treatments are used in some cases to help lighten darkened areas of the skin. Darkened patches of skin may be treated with prescription retinol (vitamin A cream) or topical hydroquinone. If the outer layer of discolored skin requires removal, a chemical peel can be applied.

Rapid Skin Color Changes and Lightening

Although many skin color changes are medically insignificant, the psychological impacts can be severe. Whether your discoloration is minor or requires long-term treatment to lighten affected areas, successful treatment can be accomplished for most patients. If a skin color change occurs rapidly or for no apparent reason, contact our office immediately.

Contact Allegheny Advanced Dermatology Center to schedule an appointment. Call: (814) 944-7109.