At a Hypopigmentation it is a special symptom of the human skin or hair. Hypopigmentation is usually characterized by the fact that the number of melanocytes is greatly reduced. The symptom can also occur if the production of the skin pigment melanin is reduced. Basically, hypopigmentation can be both congenital and acquired.
What is hypopigmentation?In the case of albinism, the hypopigmentation disorder shows up all over the body. Not only is the skin color significantly lighter, but also the iris and hair of the affected person.
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The symptoms of hypopigmentation can show up in different parts of the human body. In most cases, the hair, iris, and skin are affected. In dermatological science, hypopigmentation is one of the so-called secondary efflorescences. Secondary lesions are changes in the skin that arise as a result of primary abnormalities.
Examples of typical secondary fluorescences are dandruff or ulcers. The pigment disorders typical of hypopigmentation can occur on a single skin area and with local limitation or in several areas. There are also pigment disorders that affect the entire skin.
A variety of symptoms can appear, depending on the type of hypopigmentation. The light skin spots vary depending on the cause and stage in terms of their size, color, shape and symmetry.
The causes for the occurrence of hypopigmentation can be different. Basically there are both congenital and acquired causes for the development of the typical symptoms. Congenital hypopigmentation can manifest itself in a variety of syndromes. These include albinism, poliosis, vitiligo, nevus achromicus, Waardenburg syndrome, Angelman syndrome or piebaldism.
On the other hand, typical syndromes of acquired hypopigmentation are for example Sheehan's syndrome, canities, Simmond cachexia, Progeria aldultorum, Sutton nevus or Leucoderma syphilicum. Psoriasis, scars or leprosy are also acquired hypopigmentations. Frequently occurring pigment disorders in the form of hypopigmentation occur, for example, in white spot disease (vitiligo) and in albinism.
In the case of albinism, the pigmentation disorder shows up all over the body. Not only is the skin color significantly lighter, but also the iris and hair of the affected person. White or light spots on the skin are typical of white spot disease. These are completely depigmented and have a sharp border.
In most cases, these pale spots appear on the skin around the face and neck, back of the hand, elbows and knees, and the navel and genital area. Almost the entire surface of the skin is rarely affected by the spots.
Diseases with this symptom
- Pigment disorder
- White spot disease
- Waardenburg syndrome
- Angelman Syndrome
- Sheehan's Syndrome
Diagnosis & course
Numerous methods are available for diagnosing hypopigmentation. These are primarily dependent on the type or the respective syndrome of hypopigmentation. With numerous hypopigmentations, a melanin deficiency is the underlying cause of the appearance of the skin change.
The reasons for this deficiency in the skin pigment melanin can be very different. They have not yet been adequately researched. The number of melanocytes in the epidermis is decisive for the time being. The fewer melanocytes there are in the skin, the less melanin the body can produce. The appearance of the skin is correspondingly light.
In the context of white spot disease, there is a localized deficiency of melanin, which is probably caused by an autoimmune reaction. There are several steps involved in diagnosing melanin deficiency associated with hypopigmentation. First, a thorough medical history of the affected patient is taken.
Any hereditary diseases or other potential causes are discussed, such as medical therapies or special drugs that can trigger a melanin deficiency. Under certain circumstances, it is necessary to take a sample of the hypopigmentation-affected area and perform a biopsy. This makes it possible to find out more about the background and possible causes of the melanin deficiency and hypopigmentation.
In the majority of cases, hypopigmentation is a relatively harmless disease. In addition, it usually progresses slowly. For example, the light spots in white spot disease increase and become larger with age, but from a medical point of view this is not a cause for concern.
Hypopigmentation, i.e. a lack of pigment in the skin and therefore lightening, is usually the result of a lack of melanin. Hypopigmentation is usually a symptom of an underlying disease that destroys melanocytes, the melanin-forming cells in the skin. Depending on the disease, there are different complications.
One cause can, for example, be inflammation, which if left untreated can spread systemically in the rarest of cases (sepsis); this can be fatal. A typical disease of a lack of pigmentation is albinism. The affected person has no melanocytes, the skin is completely pale and accordingly susceptible to UV radiation.
Brief exposure to the sun can lead to severe skin irritation and even sunburn in people with albinism. In addition, those affected have an increased risk of developing skin cancer. In addition to the skin, the eyes are also usually affected, as melanin can also be missing there. It comes to poor eyesight, which can lead to blindness.
In addition, especially in school age, there is discrimination against classmates, so that the person affected is exposed to a high stress factor that can lead to depression. A similar disease, which is only present in places and causes the same complications, is white spot disease (vitiligo). Phenylketonuria can also cause hypopigmentation. If left untreated, this can lead to intellectual development disorders in the newborn that can result in disabilities. Epileptic seizures and muscle cramps are also the result.
When should you go to the doctor?
In the case of hypopigmentation, a distinction must be made between an innate and an acquired form. With hypopigmentation, skin and hair are much lighter than usual. The cause is a strong reduction in melanocytes, which are responsible for the formation of skin pigment. Typical examples of congenital hypopigmentation are albinism with totally light coloring of the skin and hair as well as vitiligo with a partly light colored skin in the form of spots of different sizes and irregular borders.
With the congenital form of hypopigmentation, a doctor's visit is not required. The situation is different with acquired hypopigmentation. The causes here are, for example, skin diseases such as psoriasis. Scars too often appear much lighter than their surroundings.
In addition, chemical substances affecting the skin, including components of cosmetics, the use of certain medications and mechanical influences can lead to discoloration of the skin. For medical clarification, the first step should be to see the family doctor, who will decide on the further course of treatment based on his medical history. He often refers his patients to a dermatologist, i.e. a dermatologist.
Doctors & therapists in your area
Treatment & Therapy
The therapy of hypopigmentation is always based on the underlying cause.If a drug-induced deficiency in melanin is responsible for the development of hypopigmentation, the corresponding drug must be discontinued and a replacement prescribed. The same applies to cosmetics that have caused hypopigmentation.
Since most hypopigmentations are mostly harmless from a medical point of view, no therapy is necessary in many cases. From an aesthetic point of view, however, hypopigmentation is perceived as a flaw by many people and can cause serious psychological problems. In such a case, psychotherapy is recommended. Otherwise, cosmetic treatment is also an option.
Outlook & forecast
In most cases, hypopigmentation is a harmless symptom. This can either be innate and occur in the course of life. However, patients with hypopigmentation should protect themselves from the sun and never spend long periods of time in direct sun without sun protection. This can lead to severe skin burns and irritations. The eyes can also be damaged by strong sunlight during hypopigmentation, which can lead to blindness.
The affected person usually has very light skin and very light hair. If the symptom is congenital, there is usually no treatment. With the use of cosmetics, the symptom can be covered with make-up relatively easily. Actually, however, there is no need to hide the hypopigmentation. If it arises from a chronic cause or from a drug, the primary cause of the disease is identified and treated.
Newborns and young children with hypopigmentation require special treatment. Teenagers can also experience bullying and teasing due to hypopigmentation. In this case, it is advisable to consult a psychologist in case of psychological problems.
There are no concrete measures to prevent hypopigmentation because the symptoms are either congenital or occur relatively spontaneously. Sometimes hormonally effective drugs such as birth control pills are responsible for the symptoms, so the instructions in the package insert must always be observed.
Inflammation of the skin must be clarified by a doctor in order to avoid the development of hypopigmentation. Cosmetic products with a skin-lightening effect should also be used responsibly and only after consultation with a doctor.
You can do that yourself
If hypopigmentation is inherited, there is no effective method of treatment or self-therapy. However, the symptom is harmless in itself and does not lead to any further medical problems for the body. If hypopigmentation is triggered by a drug, this drug must be discontinued or replaced with another. A doctor should be consulted for advice.
The same goes for cosmetics. If hypopigmentation occurs after using a certain care product, it should no longer be used and should be replaced by another product. In any case, the affected areas can be covered with make-up so that they are not particularly noticeable. If the patient does not feel satisfied with their own skin, simple conversations with friends or with their own partner often help. In many cases, birth control pills are also responsible for hypopigmentation. Here, those affected should carefully follow the package insert and possibly switch to another pill.
However, there is no way to help yourself with this symptom. If the patient feels uncomfortable with the hypopigmentation and a reduced self-esteem is triggered, a visit to a beautician or psychologist is necessary.