Friday, November 8

Hypopigmentation - Hypomelanosis

Skin hypopigmentation and hypomelanosis
Hypopigmentation (hypomelanosis) is the loss of or reduction in production of skin pigment. Depending upon the type of skin disorder, hypopigmentation may be total, partial or localized.
Hypomelanosis may be due to a specific cause as in albinism (genetic) or due to an unknown cause as in idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis. The affected skin area may be well defined and geographic in shape with total loss of pigment as in the case of vitiligo. In some cases hypopigmentation may be congenital. The congenital lack of pigment is stable and nonprogressive and it can be either total or localized.

Infections of the skin, especially fungal infections like tinea versicolor, can cause hypomelanosis. Post inflammatory hypopigmentation (PIH) is caused as a result of inflammation, damage or trauma to the skin as in the case of infections, dermatitis, burns, blisters and pimples. In some cases, improperly conducted chemical or cosmetic laser treatments can cause skin damage and hyperpigmentation or hypomelanosis. Here in this post various skin conditions leading to hypopigmentation are briefly described.

White discoloration on skin

White discoloration of skin occurs due to loss of or reduction in melanin pigment and hypomelanosis on the skin. The melanin pigment in the skin gives the skin coloration ranging from white to dark black. The amount of melanin to be produced by the skin and the color of a person are decided by the genetic factors.

For more information read 'white discoloration on skin'.


Albinism disorder is an inherited hypomelanosis condition wherein little or no pigment is produced by the body. Albinism involves different genes and hence there are different types. Albinos have various degrees of vision impairment and tender skin. Some affected persons may be nearly blind. The retina of albinos may be impaired during the development.

For more information read 'Facts about albinism disorder'.

Albinism disorder types

Albinism, hypomelanosis disorders, are of several types and basically all types are caused by genetic defects. There are 15 genetic locations in the chromosomes, the defects of which are associated with albinism. Oculocutaneous type of albinism involves hypomelanosis of eyes (ocular), skin (cutaneous) and hair. The mutation of GPR143 gene on X chromosome causes ocular albinism (OA1).

For more information read 'Types of albinism disorders'.

Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis

Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis are very common hypopigmentation spots seen usually on the exposed parts of the body like shin and forearm. These hypomelanosis spots are drop-like in appearance and are small in size (2-5 mm). These hypopigmentation white spots begin to appear around the age of 30 years and are found to affect far more women than men.

For more information read 'idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis'.

Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis - causes

The causes for this hypopigmentation disorder are not exactly known. As these hypomelanosis white spots are generally found on the exposed parts of the body, one possible cause may be excessive exposure to sunlight. These spots start appearing in the late twenties and early thirties. Hence, aging process could be one of the possible causes of hypomelanosis.

For more information read 'idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis causes'.

Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis - treatment

These hypopigmentation white spots are harmless and do not require any treatment. However for individuals conscious about aesthetic appearance treatments for hypomelanosis are available. Treatments includes application of topical steroids or retinoids, dermabrasion or microdermabrasion, cryotherapy, cosmetic cover-up, surgery and grafting.

For more information read 'idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis treatment'.

Nevus depigmentosus

Nevus depigmentosus is white spot with hypopigmentation. Nevus depigmentosus is congenital, benign and non progressive. These patches usually appear on the trunk, hands and feet. In most of the cases they are present at the time of birth. Functional and morphological anomalies of melanocytes and melanosomes appear to cause this condition.

For more information read 'nevus depigmentosus'.

Pityriasis alba

Pityriasis alba is an atopic dermatitis with hypopigmentation. Pityriasis alba affects children mostly on their face. Children of the age between 3 and 16 years are generally affected. Initially the hypopigmentation spots may appear red or pink. Later these white patches fade and appear pale and dry.

For more information read 'pityriasis alba white spots'.

Pityriasis alba - causes

The real cause of pityriasis alba is not known. A number of possible causes are being postulated. The microscopic analysis of the skin scrapings rules out the involvement of bacteria or fungi. Further studies have revealed that there is reduction in the number of functional melanocytes and decrease of melanosomes in size and number.

For more information read 'causes of pityriasis alba'.

Pityriasis alba - symptoms

Pityriasis alba initially appear as raised red patches which after some days become flat and pale. The hypopigmentation is partial in the spots. The hypomelanosis macules are usually limited to face, especially on the cheeks, around mouth and chin. On closer examination these white patches show small dry scales.

For more information read 'symptoms of pityriasis alba'.

Pityriasis alba - treatment

In most of the cases pityriasis alba resolves by itself without any treatment after some time. However the pigmentation of the hypopigmentation spots of the affected skin will be slow and take considerable time. The application of moisturizers can help in dehydrating the skin and reduce and prevent dryness as well as scale formation.

For more information read 'treatment for pityriasis alba'.

Tinea versicolor

Tinea versicolor (pityriasis versicolor) are fungal infections. Tinea versicolor is superficial, benign, common, recurrent and noncontagious. This infection is usually restricted to stratum corneum layer of the epidermis. Tinea versicolor characterized by patches of hypomelanosis. Sometimes these spots may be hyperpigmented.

For more information read 'tinea versicolor'.

Tinea versicolor - causes

Tinea versicolor (pityriasis versicolor) is caused by yeast variety of fungi belonging to Malassezia group. Malaassexia furfur and M.globosa are the main causative fungi. They are part of the normal resident flora of the human skin. Under certain conditions like heat and humidity, these fungi can proliferate rapidly and cause the infection and hypopigmentation.

For more information read 'tinea versicolor causes'.

Tinea versicolor - symptoms

Tinea versicolor appears as itchy patches of hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation. The flat macules are of circular and oval shape with sharp margins. The infection worsens in hot and humid conditions with intense itch. It is superficial infection affecting the stratum corneum layer of the epidermis. Usually fine scales are present.

For more information read 'tinea versicolor symptoms'.

Tinea versicolor - treatment

Tinea versicolor can be effectively treated with a wide variety of medications. In early stages topical creams and lotions available over the counter can be bought and applied. Some of the topical applications are, tea tree oil, selenium sulphide shampoo, clotrimazole cream, terbinafine cream, cassia alata leaves and ciclopirox olamine.

For more information read 'tinea versicolor treatment'.

Vitiligo (leucoderma)

Vitiligo (leucoderma) is a skin disorder in which hypopigmentation patches occur due to loss of melanin pigment of the skin. The loss of skin pigmentation, can be focal, segmental and non-segmental. These white patches of hypopigmentation may spread and grow over time to cover greater area of the body.

For more information read 'vitiligo (leucoderma)'.

Vitiligo - causes

The basic cause of vitiligo is the stoppage of melanin pigment production or death of melanocytes. Due to some physiological conditions, hypomelanosis patches form and grow. Possible factors causing this hypopigmentation disorder are, autoimmune diseases, thyroid disorders, hereditary and genetic disorders, stress and environmental conditions.

For more information read 'causes of vitiligo'.

Vitiligo - signs

Signs of vitiligo include the development of flat hypopigmentation patches without any scale formation. These hypomelanosis patches occur prominently on the extremities. Though vitiligo appears initially as small spots, it progresses and spreads all over the body. The orifices of the body as well as the sun the exposed areas are mostly affected by hypopigmentation.

For more information read 'signs of leucoderma'.

Vitiligo - diagnosis

Hypopigmentation of face particularly around mouth, eyes, nostrils and ears indicate the possibility of development of vitiligo. The hypomelanosis of the orifices of the body like mouth, nostrils, ears, umbilicus, anal opening and genital opening could be the indicator of development of leucoderma disease.

For more information read 'diagnosis of leucoderma'.

Vitiligo - camouflage by micropigmentation

For focal, non progressive and static vitiligo micropigmentation (camouflage tattoo) can be successfully done. Colors like black, white (titanium oxide), camel yellow, brown (iron oxide), red (mercuric sulphate, cinnabar) are used in vitiligo camouflage. The expertise of the tattoo professional play a great part in the success of this tattoo procedure for treating hypopigmentation.

For more information read 'vitiligo camouflage by micropigmentation'.

Vitiligo - cure - repigmentation

In patients with focal or segmental vitiligo, autologous melanocyte transplantation and repigmentation of the hypopigmentation spots can be tried. Patient's own melanocytes are harvested from his normal areas of skin and cultured in a medium. These cultured melanocytes are introduced into hypomelanosis spots for further growth and repigmentation.

For more information read 'vitiligo cure and repigmentation'.

Vitiligo research

Vitiligo research is now focused on autologous melanocyte transplantation, stem cell transplantation and genetic aspects of vitiligo. undifferentiated melanocytes or stem cells are present in the outer root sheath of hair follicle. The transplantation of these stem cells will repopulate the deficient skin with active melanocytes at the hypopigmentation sites.

For more information read 'latest research trends in vitiligo research'.

current topic: Skin hypopigmentation (hypomelanosis)

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