We’ve all heard of hyperpigmentation—spots and skin darkening caused by sun exposure, hormones, and age. But what’s hypopigmentation? You guessed it—it’s the opposite of hyperpigmentation or loss of color in the skin. Hypopigmentation can appear as small, white spots on the skin, or large swaths of skin that are noticeably lighter than the surrounding areas.
At its root, hypopigmentation is caused by a deficiency in melanin. Most often, hypopigmentation is a result of skin trauma like pimples, cuts, lesions, and scrapes. This type of hypopigmentation is often thought of as a type of scarring and is called post-inflammatory hypopigmentation. However, not all hypopigmentation is caused by skin trauma. Other skin disorders that causing lightening include:
- Vitiligo: A genetic, skin-lightening condition that many experts believe is an autoimmune disease
- Pityriasis Alba: A common skin disorder among children that causes scaly, hypopigmented patches
- Tinea Versicolor: A yeast infection common in humid climates that causes patchy, hypopigmented areas
The recommended hypopigmentation treatment depends largely on the cause of your condition. For example Tinea Versicolor patients are usually treated with an antifungal cream while vitiligo is often treated with steroids. Common treatments for post-inflammatory hypopigmentation include:
- Corticosteroid creams: Topical corticosteroid treatments reduce inflammation and decrease skin lightening.
- Laser therapy: Fraxel laser, Excimer laser, or Intense Pulsed Light treatments are all light-based procedures used to treat hypopigmentation.
- Skin bleaching: In rare and cases, dermatologists may recommend skin-bleaching ingredients like hydroquinone to blend the hypopigmented areas with the unaffected areas.