November 14 2019 – Tyra Johnson-Brown
No, not “hyper”, that’s right...say it with me, “HYPOpigmentation! I had to make sure you saw the difference because it's crucial. Hypopigmentation is not what people commonly hear or even experience when it comes to skin tone. We all have experienced dark spots and darkening of our skin whether due to genetics or acne. But what is much less common but still extremely important to discuss is the rare experience of hypopigmented skin. You may not hear it referred to in that way because it usually shows up in the form of rare diseases such as vitiligo. So yes, hypopigmentation is exactly what it sounds like; patches of your skin essentially appearing lighter than your overall skin tone due to the loss/or lack of melanin.
I think what we are all wondering here is, what causes it? Well, a host of things could be the causing factor, such as genetic conditions, environmental factors, or even an injury. There have even been occurrences where an injury has lead a person to develop hypopigmentation or common skin conditions associated with it. :gasp: CONDITIONS?! Yes, skin conditions. Which can be challenging, I'm sure, but not necessarily incurable, all hope is not lost! Before we get our blood pressure unnecessarily high, let’s just explore these conditions. Knowledge is the sister of truth!
Albinism- extremely pale skin that may have little to no color. It is a genetic condition that can also make your hair white and your eyes light blue in color. People with albinism are born with this condition.
Vitiligo- characterized by lighter skin. This occurs in patches that cover your skin, rather than a widespread lack of color.
Pityriasis alba- leftover white spots from previous cases of red, scaly skin patches. This condition tends to heal on its own over time. There’s no definitive cause although to be related to eczema. Children with this condition may outgrow it in adulthood.
Tinea versicolor- stems from a fungal infection that occurs from overactive yeast on the skin. It doesn’t lead to complications, but the scaly spots can become a nuisance.
Lichen sclerosus- causes white patches that may eventually enlarge, bleed, and scar. These patches occur in the anal and genital areas. They can also develop on the breasts, arms, and upper body. It is reportedly most common in women experiencing menopause.
While these conditions are typically manageable, there are other results of hypopigmentation that can cause more permanent conditions, which thankfully, are usually still manageable! The following are some of these more common conditions: atopic dermatitis or eczema, contact dermatitis, healed blisters, infections of the skin, psoriasis, scars and burns.
These conditions are usually treated through dermabrasion, facial peels, laser resurfacing, and a host of other treatments we don’t necessarily recommend. Though we are not Doctors, I think we can all agree that the natural lifestyle especially for your skin is often best. However, we know some of these symptoms are hard to ignore and easier to treat if you focus on treating the condition itself. For example, prescription anti-inflammatory creams are used to treat lichen sclerosus and pityriasis alba and moisturizing the skin can also speed up the healing process.
Antifungal medications are used to treat tinea versicolor and may be taken orally via pills, or applied directly to the patches with a topical cream.There are many options for the treatment of vitiligo such as restorative light treatments, depigmentation, laser therapy, and surgery.
Ok, I hope you guys are learning to trust me now because I have never let you down! I know I may have scared you a little but hopefully your faith is restored by the overwhelming number of ways to treat hypopigmentation!
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