Skin pigmentation disorders affect the color of your skin. Skin cells give your 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.

If your body makes too much melanin, your skin gets darker. Pregnancy, Addison’s disease and sun exposure all can make your skin darker. If your body makes too little melanin, your skin gets lighter.

Pigmentation can be of two types – Hypopigmentation and Hyperpigmentation. Hypopigmentation (decrease in skin pigmentation) is a condition in which patches of skin become lighter or whiter in colour than the normal surrounding skin.

Hypopigmentation in skin is the result of a reduction in melanin production.  hypopigmentation include vitiligo is a condition that causes patches of light skin. Albinism is a genetic condition affecting all of a person’s skin. Infections, blisters and burns can cause lighter skin,  pigmentation loss as a result of skin damage.

Herpigmentation is a common and usually harmless condition in which patches of skin become darker in colour than the normal surrounding skin. This darkening occurs when an excess of melanin.

Causes

Pigmentation can be caused due to genetics, sun exposure, stress, fluctuating hormones caused by pregnancy and or by birth control pills, menopause, insulin resistance, damage to the skin due to injury or overly aggressive skin care treatment or frequent use of hair dyes.

Prevention and cure 
One of the best ways to avoid pigmentation is to fastidiously apply a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30+, which will block both UVA and UVB light. The sunscreen needs to be applied every three to four hours if you’re outdoors.

Topical creams containing hydroxy quinone, tretinoin, topical steroids, alpha hydroxy acid creams, azelic acid or kojic acid should be used at nightime together with sunblock during the day. Oral use of antioxidants also help in reducing pigmentation.

If creams do not work, chemical peels, microdermabrasion or fractional lasers are further treatment options.