What Causes Skin Discoloration?

What Causes Skin Discoloration?

Various kinds of skin discoloration are often the bane of even skin tone. There are so many little things that can end up impacting the coloration of our skin that it often leaves us wondering what is causing it. The good news is that there are clear answers to this question. Unfortunately, it is a somewhat complex question as well given that there is a direct cause of skin discoloration as well as various other causes that indirectly motivate the change. Understanding why various kinds of skin discoloration turn up can help give us an idea of how to approach the issues and correct the problem if we feel it is harming our appearance. To better understand this issue, we’re going to look at the root issue first to understand human skin pigmentation a little better and then move on to reasons why we can experience various kinds of skin discolorations. This will help give a complete picture that can be used to inform our behaviors going forward.

The Heart of the Issue
Melanin, the human skin pigment, is the root of why human skin takes on various tones. It does more than that too. It is more accurate to refer to it as a pigment used in the human body as it affects hair and eye color among other things. Distribution of melanin throughout the skin is affected by the ethnicity we’re descended from and plays a strong role in the likelihood of us experiencing one kind of discoloration or another. Discolorations tend to happen when an area of skin is either getting too much or too little melanin to the point that it causes a clear visual difference in one area of skin compared to another. Why this happens varies depending on the situation though. It frequently ties into something causing the parts of your skin that produce melanin to malfunction. Damage, genetics, hormones, and countless other little factors can lead to these situations that in turn create discolorations that can leave us feeling less than confident about our appearance.

The Many Faces of Discolorations
The most common reason we experience skin discoloration is due to damage to our skin cells. Sun damage is the biggest culprit as it leads to issues like sun spots. Particular areas of the skin take damage from UV exposure that in turn, affects the production of melanin in a localized place to create a darker spot. Direct physical damage, by contrast, actually tends to create paler areas of skin if the damage lasts long enough. This is partly why scars tend to be paler than the skin around them and thereby easier to spot. Damage isn’t the only potential issue at play here though. Another big factor is the simple fact that some of us have genetics that doesn’t necessarily lead to a perfectly even distribution of melanin. We can end up with patchier skin thanks to this, or in the case of albinism, the exact opposite where there is next to no melanin available. Lastly, hormonal fluctuations can play a role in skin discoloration as well. They can magnify the production of melanin in a given area for a short while and lead to long lasting patches of darker skin.

Woman in bikini applying sunscreen by the pool

What You Can Do
Many of these factors can be accounted for if the discolorations aren’t purely genetic. Skin damage is the easiest one to control. All you need to help protect yourself from discolorations from UV exposure is to remember to wear sunscreen every day. This will minimize the impact of the exposure and reduce the chances of any particular amount of damage creeping through and damaging melanin production in your skin. Hormonal factors tend to be a little harder to protect against, but can still be minimized with sunscreen as well. Skin needs motivation to darken and denying it with sunscreen will go a long way towards helping you. Additionally, there are various products and product combinations out there that can help brighten skin when used correctly. All you need to do is discuss the problem with your dermatologist to get the right kind of help you need to even out coloration. Keep this in mind the next time you spot an unwelcome skin discoloration and you should be able to get back to feeling confident quickly.

Melanin does a lot for our body. Its presence in our eyes and hair gives us the colors we’re so proud of while its presence in our skin provides us with some of our natural skin protection. Unfortunately, sometimes things can happen that reduce or magnify the amount of melanin in a given area of our skin. These discolorations are common enough that we know many of the factors that can cause them to happen. It doesn’t make them any less frustrating though. Living well and remembering to use sunscreen will go a long way towards protecting your skin from unwelcome discolorations though.

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