Skin Depigmentation

Skin | Dermatology | Skin Depigmentation (Symptom)


Depigmentation is the lightening of the skin, or loss of pigment. Skin pigmentation disorders affect the colour of the skin. Skin cells give the skin color by making a substance called melanin. When these cells become damaged or unhealthy, it affects melanin production. Some pigmentation disorders affect just patches of skin. Others affect your entire body.


Depigmentation of the skin can be caused by a number of local and systemic conditions. The pigment loss can be partial (such as after injury to the skin) or complete (such as from vitiligo). It can be temporary (such as from tinea versicolor) or permanent (such as from albinism).

If your body makes too much melanin, your skin gets darker. Pregnancy, Addisons disease and sun exposure all can make your skin darker. If your body makes too little melanin, your skin gets lighter. Vitiligo is a condition that causes patches of light skin. Albinism is a genetic condition affecting all of a person skin. Infections, blisters and burns can cause lighter skin.

Most commonly, depigmentation of the skin is linked to people born with vitiligo, which produces differing areas of light and dark skin. Vitiligo represents the loss of pigmentation in patches of the skin. It can affect persons of any race or ethnic group, and often occurs on the skin on the back of the hands, face and armpits. The disorder can be hereditary and is frequently associated with autoimmune diseases.

Symptoms of skin depigmentation are: sudden or gradual appearance of skin with complete pigment loss. The edges are sharply defined but irregular. The pigment loss is most frequently seen on the face, elbows, knees, hands, feet, and genitalia.