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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U V W Y

Skin - abnormally dark or light

Overview Treatment
Alternative Names:
Hyperpigmentation; Hypopigmentation
Home Care:
Nonprescription depigmenting creams are available for lightening the skin. If used, follow instructions carefully and don't use one for more than 3 weeks at a time. Darker skin requires greater care when using these preparations. Cosmetics may also help in covering a discoloration.

Avoid too much sun exposure (use sunscreens or blockers).

Hyperpigmentation may persist even after treatment, so emotional support is recommended.
Call your health care provider if:
  • a skin discoloration causes significant concern or lifestyle impairment.
  • there is persistent, unexplained darkening or lightening of the skin.
  • any hyperpigmented area (like a mole) changes shape, size, or color (this may be a sign of malignancy).
What to expect at your health care provider's office:
The medical history will be obtained and a physical examination performed.

Medical history questions documenting abnormally dark or light skin in detail may include:
  • time pattern
    • When did the discoloration develop?
    • Did it develop suddenly?
    • Is it getting worse? How fast?
  • quality
    • Describe the change.
    • Is the skin turning darker or lighter?
  • location
    • Exactly where is the discoloration?
    • Has it spread to other parts of the body? In what pattern?
  • aggravating factors
    • What medications are used?
    • Is there anyone else in your family that has had a similar problem?
    • Are you often in the sun or exposed to a sun lamp?
    • What is your diet like?
  • other
The physical examination may include emphasis on evaluating the skin.

Diagnostic tests that may be performed include: Some skin conditions can be treated. Vitiligo may be treated using ultraviolet lamp treatment combined with drug therapy. Pityriasis versicolor is usually treated using anti-fungal ointment. Moles that have changed color are usually surgically removed and a biopsy is taken.

Some pigment changes spontaneously return to normal skin color (unless there is scarring of the skin).
Vitiligo, drug induced
Vitiligo, drug induced
Vitiligo on the face
Vitiligo on the face
Incontinentia pigmenti on the leg
Incontinentia pigmenti on the leg
Incontinentia pigmenti on the leg
Incontinentia pigmenti on the leg
Hyperpigmentation 2
Hyperpigmentation 2
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation - calf
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation - calf
Hyperpigmentation w/malignancy
Hyperpigmentation w/malignancy
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation 2
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation 2
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