Discolorations – what are they?

Discolorations are formed as a result of excessive accumulation of skin pigment (melanin) over a small body area. This occurs when cells responsible for the delivery of pigment function improperly due to external factors which adversely affect skin condition. The main cause of discolorations consist in excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, mostly the sunlight.

Why do the discolorations develop?

Weakening factors may include certain medications (mainly hormonal drugs, but also certain photosensitizers, e.g. cardiological drugs). Other causes may include the history of skin diseases: furuncles, acne (tanning of acne scars) and rash. Therefore, patients coping with dermatological problems should avoid tanning and exposure to sunlight.

Discolorations – symptoms and characteristics

Symptoms of discolorations consist mainly in all types of skin lesions. Quite often, they are pronounced enough to produce a disfiguring effect. Most common types of discolorations include:

  • freckles – the most common type of discolorations. They are formed within the upper parts of the body (face, décolleté;, nape, shoulders, and arms). When not exposed to sunlight over longer periods (for example in winter) they may become brighter and disappear spontaneously. On the other hand freckles may appear in large numbers during the summer season;
  • melanocytic nevi – commonly referred to as moles may occur in individuals in whom melanin distribution is uneven. Moles should be carefully monitored as they may constitute an initial stage of malignancies (melanomas). All changes in skin color and structure should be treated as alarm signs.
  • lentigo – while being due to the same causes as moles, lentigo lesions look quite differently: usually, they are larger than freckles and the pigment is homogeneously distributed over a larger area. Lentigo lesions may overlap one another;
  • melasma – discoloration of unclear etiology. Melasma may be observed in women whose hormonal metabolism becomes disturbed as a result of pregnancy or the use of contraceptives. Melasma is characterized by an irregular shape, yellow/brown color and location within the décolleté; or the face, including cheeks, forehead, or the area between the nose and the lips.
  • Riehl melanosis – similar to melasma but covering a larger area. Melanosis of this type occurs usually in post-menopausal women, although younger women may also be affected. The main cause of this discoloration consists in the use of photosensitizing cosmetics, mainly perfume;
  • “café au lait” lesions – as the name suggests, the lesions are of the coffee and cream color. The light-brown lesions are usually homogeneous and develop in childhood to further increase their extent with age. They are one of the few types of discolorations which are not due to UV radiation. However, they may be symptoms of more serious diseases.

Discolorations – how to eliminate them?

Less troublesome discolorations which require only skin brightening care measures may be treated by home methods such as rubbing in lemon juice or putting on homemade masks (e.g. chickpea, turmeric, and cottage cheese mask). More serious discolorations, however, require a consultation with dermatologist. To save our time, we may choose a medical center which offers comprehensive treatment of skin lesions such as the Medicus Self clinic in Wrocław. Our experts will recommend the treatment that will be most effective for a particular problem. In many cases, also the procedure itself may be scheduled during the consultation.

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