What is skin pigmentation?
Humans have a variety of skin colours. They range from dark brown to light pink in hues. Skin pigmentation regulates the resistance to UV rays that penetrate our skin, thus controlling any biochemical effects. Melanin is responsible for the colour of the skin. Melanin produced within the skin cells is called melanocytes. Melanocytes determine the darker colours of skin in humans. The bluish-white connective tissue underlying the dermis and the haemoglobin in the veins determines the light skin in humans.
When melanin in the cells becomes damaged and unhealthy, it affects melanin production and results in disorders of the skin. Excessive production of melanin darkens the skin. When melanin secretion decreases, skin gets lighter and can cause a skin condition called vitiligo.
This is a rare genetically inherited disorder. This is either a total lack of melanin or partial lack of melanin. People with albinism are called albinos. They are characterized by pale skin, white hair and pink eyes. Unfortunately there is no cure. Albinos should avoid sunlight since the natural lack of melanin cannot protect their skin.
Vitiligo is caused due to the loss of melanocytes. Smooth, white patches are formed on the skin and these patches are extremely sensitive to the sun. Vitiligo is not curable. Patients are treated with light sensitive drugs besides ultraviolet A light therapy. Other than this, treatment includes covering smaller patches with dyes, applying corticosteroid creams and de-pigmentation of the remaining skin.
Melasma is caused predominantly in women during pregnancy. Symmetric, dark brown patches are formed on the face. It is best to use sunscreen and stay out of sunlight so that melasma is not worsened. Individuals may also be prescribed with medicated creams to lighten the patches.
Pigment loss can happen after skin damages such as blister formations, ulcers, burns or infections. The skin fails to replace the pigmentation in the affected area. Cosmetic treatments usually are extremely helpful in covering and in many cases eliminating the blemish.
Most skin damages are cosmetically treatable. A good amount of blemishes and scars can be eliminated with chemical peels such as glycolic peels, lactic acid peels and salicylic acid peels. They are extremely useful in fading away marks and appearance of wrinkles. All the above peels can be applied in a 10% to 80% range.