Pigmentation means coloring. Skin pigmentation disorders affect the color of your skin. Your skin gets its color from a pigment called melanin. Special cells in the skin make melanin. When these cells become damaged or unhealthy, it affects melanin production. Some pigmentation disorders affect just patches of skin. Others affect your entire body.
If your body makes too much melanin, your skin gets darker. Pregnancy, Addison’s disease, and sun exposure all can make your skin darker. If your body makes too little melanin, your skin gets lighter. Vitiligo is a condition that causes patches of light skin. Albinism is a genetic condition affecting a person’s skin. A person with albinism may have no color, lighter than normal skin color, or patchy missing skin color. Infections, blisters and burns can also cause lighter skin.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hyperpigmentation isn’t necessarily a condition but a term that describes skin that appears darker. It can:
- occur in small patches
- cover large areas
- affect the entire body
While increased pigmentation usually isn’t harmful, it can be a symptom of another medical condition. Learn about types of hyperpigmentation, causes, and how to treat it.
There are several types of hyperpigmentation, the common ones being melasma, sunspots, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
- Melasma. Melasma is believed to be caused by hormonal changes and may develop during pregnancy. Areas of hyperpigmentation can appear on any area of the body, but they appear most commonly on the stomach and face.
- Sunspots. Also called liver spots or solar lentigines, sunspots are common. They’re related to excess sun exposure over time. Generally, they appear as spots on areas exposed to the sun, like the hands and face.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This is a result of injury or inflammation of the skin. A common cause of this type is acne.