About Hypopigmentation at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta
Hypopigmentation is frequently diagnosed when a patient’s skin cells lose pigment as a result of reduced melanin production. Loss of pigment results in a lightening, or whitening, of the skin, and can occur in patches of widely varying sizes. One patient’s entire face or back may be affected, while another patient may experience only small coin-sized patches of hypopigmentation.
Types of Hypopigmentation
Some types of hypopigmentation are below. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list:
- Vitiligo is a condition in which the skin loses pigmentation, resulting in white patches. There is often no clear cause of the development of vitiligo.
- Albinism is the absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair, and eyes. “Albino” individuals are therefore often extremely light of skin, hair, and eyes.
- Skin trauma, such as burns, blisters, or other infections, can sometimes cause the skin to lose pigment. The pigment loss varies in severity and is oftentimes not permanent.
- Skin cancer removal via liquid nitrogen or laser therapy can result in hypopigmentation on the removal site
There is no cure for hypopigmentation, but cosmetic cover-ups, corticosteroid creams, and ultraviolet light treatments have all been used to help combat hypopigmentation. For example, our PHAROS EX-308 Excimer Laser has successfully induced repigmentation for certain patients who continue regular maintenance (often required) to effectively treat their hypopigmentation. Vitiligo patients may benefit from the power of Narrowband UVB (phototherapy) treatment combined with the Excimer Laser. Our skilled providers also perform suction blistering, a skin grafting technique using melanocytes, for appropriate hypopigmentation candidates. Results can vary greatly from patient to patient so planning an appropriate treatment strategy with one of our board-certified dermatologists will increase the likelihood for optimal results. It is important that individuals affected by hypopigmentation take special care to always wear sunscreen, as the whitened patches of skin make them more susceptible than others to developing skin cancer.
Is there a cure for hypopigmentation?
No, hypopigmentation currently has no known cure. The best course of action for those affected is to explore cosmetic cover-ups (if desired) to minimize the appearance of the lightened patches.
What type of person does hypopigmentation affect?
Hypopigmentation has been documented in both sexes, multiple races, and even very rarely in children. Anyone can be affected.
Is it safe to “bleach” unaffected skin to better match the affected areas?
Safe skin-lightening treatments are available but should be used only under the administration and supervision of a licensed physician, preferably an experienced board-certified dermatologist.