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Most Common Pigmentation Disorders

Uneven, pigmented skin can can affect anyone at any time in their life — from a birthmark you’re born with to discoloration from sun-spots from overexposure over time. Uneven skin can also present as a more serious disorder that is usually diagnosed by a dermatologist. Here are a few of the most common skin pigmentation disorders that people suffer from.


Vitiligo is a skin condition and immune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack pigment cells causing loss of pigmentation in blotchy areas. The cells that normally product melanin die or stop function. Skin affected by Vitiligo is smooth and white, and can appear anywhere on the body, but usually presents around the eyes, mouth, hands, and feet.

While there is no cure for vitiligo, there are treatment options to try to help stop or slow the discoloration process and return some color back to the affected area. Treatment includes topical creams with a steroid or vitamin D, or laser treatment that delivers targeted ultraviolet light.


Melasma, also known as hyperpigmentation, is a common skin problem that is made worse by sunlight and usually affects parts of the body that get a lot of sun like face. Many people get tan or blue-gray spots on their cheeks, forehead, chin, upper lip, and bridge of their nose, usually where they’ve had the most sun exposure over time. Melasma is more common in women, and is sometimes referred to as the “pregnancy mask” because it develops during pregnancy. It can also occur in women who take postmenopausal estrogen or birth control pills.

Melasma should be diagnosed by a dermatologist to find the right treatment, which can include over-the-counter skin care products or laser treatment to target and break up the pigmented areas. Sunscreen is also important for people with melasma, because sunlight will make the condition worse.


Albinism is a genetic condition that causes complete or partial absence of pigmentation in the skin. A person with albinism may have patchy, missing skin coloration, lighter than normal skin or no color at all. Albinism is inherited and present at birth.

While there is no cure for albinism, the goal of dermatological treatment is to prevent sun damage and protect the skin from UV rays.

If you think you may have a pigmentation disorder, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist to make sure it is properly diagnosed and treated for the best possible outcome.

Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussion about medical, cosmetic, mohs, and surgical dermatology. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed dermatologist or other health care worker.