We understand just how distressing it can be when you start to notice skin discolorations, particularly if they are on your face or in more visible locations. Melanin is what gives our skin its pigment, but when there is too much melanin or not enough, this results in either dark or white patches. Here’s what you should know about skin discoloration and when to see your doctor.
Also known as age spots, these harmless tan or brown spots develop over time (we typically see them in people over 50 years old) as a result of sun exposure. While you don’t need to treat sunspots, if you don’t like the way they look you may choose to talk to your doctor about lightening creams or light therapies that can help the spots fade.
This autoimmune disorder causes patches of white skin to develop on the face and body. These spots may continue to grow with age. While this condition is not considered dangerous, it’s understandable that having vitiligo can be embarrassing or distressing. While there is no way to stop these white patches from developing, there are treatment options that may be able to restore color to these areas of the skin.
This fungal infection of the skin is actually more common than you might realize. Since this fungus affects the skin’s pigmentation, the infection causes small dark or light patches of skin often on the torso or shoulders. This is one of the few fungal infections that cannot be spread to others, and antifungal creams may be recommended by a doctor to treat the infection; however, this type of fungal infection is often persistent and more difficult to treat.
Also referred to as primary adrenal insufficiency, Addison’s disease occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough cortisol. Darkening skin, or hyperpigmentation, is a trademark sign of Addison’s disease and this most often occurs in sun-exposed areas of the body and face. Sometimes this “bronzing” effect that occurs is one of the first signs that someone may have Addison’s disease. If you notice skin darkening along with nausea, weight loss, hair loss, fatigue, or loss of body hair, it’s time to see your doctor.
Instead of patches of dark skin, people with rosacea notice red inflamed skin typically around their nose and cheeks. This facial flushing comes and goes and may be triggered by alcohol, spicy foods, sunlight, or stress. If you notice facial flushing with red bumps that resemble pimples you could be dealing with rosacea.
If you notice any changes to your skin that have you feeling distressed, this is a good enough reason to call your doctor for an evaluation. Your doctor can create a treatment plan for you and may refer you to a specialist such as a dermatologist for more specialized treatment.