Have you been noticing whitish spots on your skin for a while now? Are they slowly forming in patches across different parts of your body? You could be suffering from skin depigmentation. Melanin is the substance responsible for giving the skin its color. In some cases, there may be lower melanin production, which may lead to whitish spots across the skin.
It is possible for you to feel out of place and self-conscious about the marks on your skin caused by depigmentation. But don’t worry, because we have outlined the causes that lead to this condition and explained how you can get treatment. Read on to know more about this condition.
What Exactly Is Skin Depigmentation?
This condition refers to the loss or lower production of melanin in the body, leading to whitish patches across the skin. Melanocytes are the cells in the skin that produce melanin. They can produce less melanin for several natural as well as systemic reasons. There are various kinds of depigmentation, such as:
- Generalized depigmentation- this refers to even patches of depigmented skin all over the body and is the most common form of depigmentation.
- Segmental depigmentation- in this case, only one side of the body suffers from depigmentation.
- Focal depigmentation- this mostly appears in smaller patches of skin, such as the neck and the face.
What Are The Symptoms Of Depigmentation?
Symptoms of depigmentation can vary from person to person. Sometimes, certain diseases also lead to skin depigmentation as a side effect. In these cases, the symptoms are far different from the depigmentation that arises from natural causes. The primary symptom is the appearance of whitish spots in different parts of the body, especially the face.
A lot of people do not pay heed to this condition because they think it is a purely cosmetic problem. However, this condition can lead to several autoimmune diseases, especially if it appears out of the blue. This is why it is very important to take it seriously whenever the first symptoms start appearing.
Some of the most commonly observed symptoms of depigmentation are:
- Sudden whitening of hair all over the body
- Change in color of the retina of the eye
- Alteration in the color of the tissues in the mouth and nose
- Intense itching in and around the whitened spots
- Pain in and around the whitened spots
- Stress and low-self esteem coupled with symptoms of depression
Skin depigmentation commonly appears on the face, neck, arms, armpits, groin, genital regions, and the inside of the mouth, fingers, and wrists. However, it can also appear on other parts of the body. A depigmentation cream can tackle the problem in most cases. However, if health conditions trigger depigmentation, the treatment will need a different approach. We advise you to visit a dermatologist for the appropriate treatment.
Who Is At Risk Of Developing Skin Depigmentation?
Anyone can be at risk of developing this condition. In cases where a health condition causes it, it can affect anybody. However, natural skin depigmentation causes are mostly seen in people with darker skin tones. In most cases, it develops around the face, but in some cases, it can spread to other parts of the body as well. Research says that five to nine million people are treated for depigmentation every year. Vitiligo is the most common form of this condition. It usually affects people between the ages of 7 to 30.
Skin depigmentation causes people to become self-conscious of their appearance. It can be challenging to live with this condition, particularly if you are not conscious of the reason why it developed. This is why you should see the doctor as soon as you notice any unusual white patches on your skin. Treating these patches on your own with natural remedies can end up doing more harm than good.
What Are Some of The Reasons Behind Depigmentation?
To understand what are the reasons behind depigmentation, it is important to first understand the conditions that can be caused by this issue.
This is a form of permanent depigmentation of the skin. Albinism is a rare, inherited condition where people have little to no melanin in their bodies. As a result, their skin and hair become white and they develop light-colored eyes. People with this condition are called albinos.
Unfortunately, since albinism is an inherited condition, there is no cure for it. People with this condition should stay away from direct sunlight. Melanin in our skin acts as a natural sunscreen. People with no melanin are prone to getting sunburnt.
This is one of the most commonly-seen forms of skin depigmentation. In this condition, white patches of skin develop in certain areas of the body, such as the face, neck, arms, and fingers. This condition happens due to the partial loss of melanin (melanin-producing cells) in these regions of the body. These patches can be very sensitive to direct sunlight, and it is important for people suffering from vitiligo to always apply a prescribed sunscreen before stepping out during the daytime.
There is no long-term cure for vitiligo either. Some forms of treatment for vitiligo can help in covering up the patches for some time, such as ultraviolet light therapy, a depigmentation cream, light-sensitive medicines as well as skin dyes. But none of these are permanent cures.
3. Depigmentation Caused by Damage/Injury
In some cases, injury to the skin or some form of skin damage can also lead to temporary or permanent depigmentation. It depends on the nature of the injury and damage, but these are mostly temporary and appear only in small parts of the body.
Some of the skin depigmentations caused due to injury or damage to the skin can be related to burn injuries, skin infections, blisters, and skin ulcers. When skin damage also leads to melanocytes being damaged, no melanin is produced in that particular part of the skin again.
If the injury is not very serious, the depigmentation is usually very little and the melanin production from the surrounding areas of the skin makes up for the loss. However, in case of very extensive damage or injury, the skin remain depigmented. This condition is not curable. The doctor can recommend a depigmentation cream to cover up the spots temporarily.
This is a form of temporary skin depigmentation that is usually the result of pregnancy, extremely exposed to the sun, hormonal imbalance, or the use of oral contraceptives. In this condition, dark brown and symmetrical patches develop on the face. These are mostly temporary and go away once they are treated with creams or laser therapy.
People affected by melasma should not go out in the sun too often. Direct exposure to sunlight can worsen the condition. Chemical peels are also effective as a treatment. However, a doctor has to prescribe this. We advise you to not try this treatment on your own.
Skin Depigmentation can be caused by both natural as well as systemic causes. It is important to see a doctor to treat the condition. Please keep in mind that your skin tone does not determine your identity or self-worth. You can be referred for therapy in case this condition starts affecting your mental health. Always remember that you can ask for help, and someone will always be there to guide you through.