Skin Pigmentation Types, Disorders, Causes and Treatments

In the previous post, we talked about skin discoloration, areas where it can happen, and treatment options.

In this article, we will shed more light on skin pigmentation disorders, possible factors causing pigmentation, and viable treatments.


Skin Pigmentation

Our skin has melanin which is responsible for the color of the skin. The melanin production inside the layers of your skin determines the color of the skin. If your skin loses the melanin production balance, skin discoloration happens in any area of the body. Two key types of melanin are: Eumelanin and Pheomelanin.

  • Eumelanin is brown and black. It protects your skin by limiting the amount of harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that can break through and pick up reactive oxygen radicals which could damage your cells and DNA and potentially lead to chronic health conditions like cancer.
  • Pheomelanin is yellow and red. Pheomelanin is not like eumelanin, and doesn’t protect the skin from UV rays and supports the production of reactive oxygen radicals.

The balance between eumelanin and pheomelanin determines the skin color. This balance shifts by hormones, certain genes, and more.

The amount and balance of these types of melanin define pigmentation in the skin. Here are some common types of pigmentation:



As the name suggests, birthmarks appear after birth. They are abnormalities of the skin that usually appear within a few weeks. Most birthmarks are not serious and do not pose a risk; some might even go away on their own. Among the most common birthmarks are:

  • Mongolian spots;
  • Café-au-lait spots (French for “coffee with milk);
  • Nevi (moles);
  • Vascular birthmarks; and
  • Port-wine stains.


Trauma to the Skin

Serious injuries, acne breakouts, burns, or different types of infections cause hyperpigmentation which appears as brown or black spots.


Vitamin Deficiencies

Vitamins’ balance, such as vitamin B12 and vitamin D, play a big role in skin pigment changes. Disorders, lack of sun exposure, or other reasons causes vitamins imbalance leading to skin complications.



Another determining factor for hyperpigmentation is age. As you age, you may notice more spots on the skin around the face, chest, and other areas. The risk of developing these spots is higher if you fail to apply sunscreen to these areas properly and frequently enough.



So far, there are over 125 known genes responsible for regulating and balancing melanin production in the skin. These Genes determine how much Eumelanin and Pheomelanin are produced, as well as how they function and survive over time. All of these affect the skin color.



Skin Pigment Discoloration Types

There are several reasons that can lead to a change in the color of your skin, such as pigment disorders, injuries, and a variety of internal or external factors. Skin pigmentation can happen anywhere on the skin, and appear as Hyperpigmentation, Hypopigmentation, and Depigmentation.



Hyperpigmentation, in which patches of skin become darker, is quite common and usually harmless.  The darkening of the skin occurs due to an unusually high amount of melanin in the skin.

Hyperpigmentation can be caused by:

  • Birthmarks;
  • Age spots;
  • Acne scars;
  • Pregnancy (during which Melasma or tan, brown, or gray patches can appear on the face);
  • Addison’s disease (a rare disorder that causes the decreased function of the adrenal gland and appearance of dark patches on the skin);
  • Certain drugs, such as antibiotics and birth control pills; and
  • Sun exposure.



Hypopigmentation causes the skin to appear lighter because of an abnormally low amount of melanin.

Reasons for hypopigmentation include:

  • Past skin injuries because of burns, blisters, ulcers, chemical exposure, or infection;
  • Inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema (atopic dermatitis); and
  • Rare genetic conditions like albinism, which is caused by the lack of a melanin-producing enzyme.



This condition causes the skin to lose pigments and become white. One of the common causes of depigmentation is Vitiligo.


Skin Pigmentation Disorders


Melasma is identified by tan or brown patches that appear on different parts of the body, like the forehead, upper lip, nose, and chin. Melasma is often called the “pregnancy mask;” however, in rare cases, men can also develop it. Women who are consuming pregnancy prevention medication or postmenopausal medication can develop melasma. Sunlight can make this condition worse.



Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the pigment cells. This disease causes white patches around the mouth, eyes, or back of the hand.

Other skin pigmentation disorders include:

  • Solar Lentigines;
  • Freckles;
  • Café-au-lait Macules;
  • Pityriasis Alba;
  • Tinea Versicolor;
  • Postinflammatory hypopigmentation;
  • Albinism;



What is The Treatment for Skin Discoloration?

One of the safest and most effective treatments of skin pigmentation and discoloration is the groundbreaking technology of photofacial treatments and the most trusted device for this procedure is Lumecca.

By utilizing Intense Pulsed Light or IPL technology, the Lumecca device can target the pigmented tissues, which are hidden deep in the layers of the skin, in a quick and painless session that lasts only 20 minutes.

Lumecca is highly effective in targeting age spots, sun damage, pigmentation issues (vascular lesions), port-wine stains, spider veins, freckles, pigmented lesions, and rosacea.

The Lumecca device is safe to use, has no side effects, and can be used to treat skin discoloration in areas such as the face, neck, legs, back, arms, hands, chest, stomach, between the buttocks, abdomen, and around the mouth.

If you are already familiar with this technology and would like to book a session, our clinic in Beverly Hills offers different packages of Lumecca treatments. Your skin matters to us, so feel free to contact us if you need further information. The next post, will answer your frequently asked questions about IPL and Lumecca device.