Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Skin Discoloration Causes

Most, if not all people are affected with skin discoloration—may it be obvious to other people or only know to him or her. Skin discoloration refers to the presence of any area of our skin which has a different complexion, or in some cases even texture, compared to most parts of our skin. Skin discoloration occurs for several reasons and these are not only confined to external factors, but also include factors which are inherent to us. Skin discoloration is not limited to any size, shape or color—in fact, any simple unusual discoloration in the skin may be considered as such.

Before taking into consideration the types and causes of these skin discolorations, it is important to note that melanin is the substance or hormone that gives color to our skin—as such, it governs our complexion, as well as the color of our hair and that of our eyes. Melanin will play a great role in the discussion of skin discolorations.

Types of Skin Discoloration

- Hyperpigmentation. This happens when, due to an overproduction of hyperactivity of melanin, the skin color increases in shade and complexion. Areas with hyperpigmentation appear darker than most other areas. Also, with further exposure to sunlight, these areas may further darken. Age spots or liver spots are some samples of hyperpigmented skin.

- Hypopigmentation. This is the opposite of the latter. In this case, there is underproduction of melanin which leads to lighter patches of skin. This happens in people with vitiligo, or in people where there is hypopigmentation of the entire skin/body surface, as in the case of albinism.

- Pale Skin. A pale skin is due mostly to a decreased amount of hemoglobin to the tissues. Hemoglobin is the blood component which gives a red color to the blood. Lack of hemoglobin is usually due to malnutrition, specifically a low amount of iron in the body.

- Red Skin. Red skin can result to allergic reaction or inflammation of the skin. Diseases like viral infection, sunburn, flushing and fever can lead to redness in the skin. In other cases, redness can also result from trauma to the affected areas or mechanical pressure to the skin.

Yellowish Skin. Yellowish discoloration of the skin is what we refer to as jaundice. Jaundice is due to a problem with an accumulation of bilirubin in the bloodstream. This often occurs among people with liver disorders. In severe cases, the discoloration even reaches the eye and the brain which can result to fatal complications.

- Cyanosis. A bluish discoloration in the skin is due to a decreased amount of oxygen in the blood. Cyanosis can be very pronounced in the area around the lips, the lips itself, the nailbeds, palm, etc. If this happens, the person must be given supplementary oxygen to prevent further damage to the body organs.

Medical Causes of Skin Discoloration

The aforementioned types of skin discoloration are mostly related to underlying diseases, except those which are caused by overexposure to the sunlight. Diseases involved in such cases are diabetes, liver diseases, anemia, infections and the like.

There are also cases where medication intake can cause discoloration of the skin like intake of tetracycline, antimalarial drugs, and the like.

Conditions like pregnancy also increases the melanin production thus, pregnant women are most likely to develop dark spots in the face and other parts of the body.

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