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Skin Discoloration

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Skin Care Education

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Skin Discoloration & Pigmentation Disorders

Skin discoloration is one symptom of several dermatology conditions. In some cases, the discoloration may be due to a side effect, infection, allergies, or exposure to irritants. Discolored patches of skin may appear at any time, and when large patches of discoloration occur, it can be alarming. Talk to a board-certified dermatology expert to discuss your skin discoloration symptoms.

Melasma

The medical term for acne is acne vulgaris. In this case, “Vulgaris” comes from the Latin word meaning “common.” Acne lesions form on the surface of the skin in various forms. Normally, acne isn’t very serious, but certain lesions may become seriously infected on rare occasions.

Melasma is a discoloration of the mid-face that looks like darker patches of skin
A person's inner elbow showing signs of an eczema rash

Ezcema

Apart from the itching usually associated with eczema, this condition can cause either darkening or lightening of the skin. If an eczema flare-up causes discoloration, it can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year or more for the skin tone to become uniform.

Hyperpigmentation

Any imbalance to melanin in the skin results in hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmented skin can appear as darker, lighter, or otherwise off-tone from the rest of the surrounding skin. A dermatologist or a certified dermatology provider can prescribe specific medications to help the pigmentation fade.

hyperpigmentation caused by acne

Inflammatory & Post Inflammatory Discoloration

Dermatology conditions like eczema, bug bites, acne Vulgaris, sunburns, psoriasis, and rosacea all cause inflammation in the skin. 

Normally, an inflamed area will become pink or red to the touch, as well as feel hotter than the surrounding skin. If an infection is the cause of this discoloration, it will generally face as the infection dies. However, there can still be some discoloration left over if the infection damaged the skin cells or melanin producers.

Chronic Dermatitis

Even though chronic dermatitis conditions like eczema and rosacea have some inflammatory qualities to them, flare-ups take time and protection from irritants to resolve.

Additionally, if your flare-ups become infected, it can further increase your risk for more permanent discoloration.

Chronic dermatitis on the elbow presents like psoriasis with flaky scales, white patches, redness, and inflammation
psoriasis flareup

Psoriasis

For lighter skin tones, psoriasis flares present as red and irritated skin, often with patches of silvery scaly skin. For darker skin tones, psoriasis flares present as darkened or thicker patches of irritated skin.

Vitiligo

Without melanin, the skin will eventually lose it’s naturally accumulated color. People with vitiligo experience paling and pigment loss from their skin. At first, depigmentation is most commonly noticed on the fingertips and at the tips of the toes. It may also be noticed on the face or through the hair. Vitiligo also affects the color of hair.

Anyone of any skin tone or color can develop vitiligo.

Generally, the patches of skin affected by vitiligo will increase with size as time goes on. In a way the disease is progressive, but it is not life-threatening or physically damaging.

Vitiligo symptoms show up as light discolored patches of skin due to a reduced amount of melanin pigments in the skin.
Melasma is a discoloration of the mid-face that looks like darker patches of skin

Melasma

Also known as chromasma, melasma is a condition that causes dark discolored spots to form on the face, due to overactive melanin production. The dots resemble freckles, and women typically develop melasma after becoming pregnant.

The hormones a mother experiences during pregnancy can affect the melanin-producing glands in her skin, thus leaving her with the discolored melasma.

Contact Dermatitis

A main characteristic of contact dermatitis is an itchy red rash, with possible burning sensations. Pain, swelling, oozing, scaling, blisters, and dryness are other possible symptoms. Contact dermatitis is easily treated by avoiding contact with the irritant, and by most prescription ointments or creams.
Contact dermatitis causes itching and peeling of skin after repeated contact with an irritant
Tinea versicolor is a fungal infection that presents as a white, discolored patch of skin.

Tinea Versicolor

A type of skin discoloration caused by a fungal infection. The discoloration occurs when the fungus disrupts the function of pigment-producing cells in the skin, causing either lighter or darker spots to appear in the skin.

This condition is easily identifiable and easily treated with antifungal prescription creams or ointments. Once the infection is gone, the discolored patches should resolve after a few months.

Rosacea

This chronic condition causes bright red discoloration through the face. The expanded blood vessels that cause rosacea can make it easier to get flushed. Acne, spider veins, and thickening skin are also related to rosacea. 

Treatments are best assessed on an individual basis, but generally soothing medicated creams and antibiotics prove helpful before more intense treatment is needed.

Rosacea is a non-acne causing reddness in the face
Poikiloderma is discoloration of the thin skin around the neck due to sun damage

Poikiloderma

Redness and discoloration are caused by sun damage to the skin around the neck and above the chest. Keeping the affected skin out of the sun is generally the best treatment. Sunscreen and sun-protective clothes should be worn regularly to allow the condition to fade.

Why use Tennessee Telederm?

Virtual Appointments

Your exam is online using telehealth, a HIPAA secure video platform powered by Athenahealth, the largest connected network built to support physician practices.

Experience-Backed Treatment Plans

Treatment plans are backed by years of dermatology and practice experience. Kristen specializes in diagnosing and treating medical conditions of the skin and creates personalized treatment plans for each patient.

Convenience and Affordable

Tennessee Telederm offers a convenient and affordable way to receive dermatology care through online scheduling, telehealth and same-day appointments. We do accept insurance and treat ages 12 and up.

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