Dyschromia is a patchy or irregular skin discoloration. This is generally caused by vascular changes in the blood vessels, variations in melanin density or foreign organisms growing within the skin. This is often referred to as mottled or mottling skin. The skin cells produce a pigment called melanin. This is what is responsible for the skin coloration. Tyrosine is an amino acid converted to melanin through a chemical process. This process can be impacted by numerous factors including trauma, ionizing or solar radiation, heat and hereditary. The hormones partially regulate the distribution and production of the pigment. The production of pigment can be decreased or increased when any of these factors change.
The changes in pigmentation causing dyschromia can be either permanent or temporary. These changes can be a separate or a primary disorder. The degree of skin pigmentation of each individual determines their susceptibility to skin disease. Individuals with a lighter skin tone have more sensitivity to sun damage from frequent exposure. Even individuals with a darker skin tone can suffer damage from too much exposure to the sun. In most cases, changes in the pigment are cosmetic and will not impact the physical health of the individual. Certain changes can trigger psychological stress while others increase the risk for numerous disorders.
The Common Causes of Dyschromia
- Unevenly applying sunscreen so areas remain unprotected
- Skin discoloration occurring during the healing process
- Malignant melanoma
- Sun tan and sunburn
- Moles, nevi and giant nevi
- Minor skin infections, wounds, cuts, insect bites and cuts
- Hyper-pigmentation caused in individuals with darker skin
- Photosensitivity resulting from specific drugs and medications
- Radiation therapy
Dyschromia has numerous symptoms. It is important to consult with a physician if there are persistent changes in skin pigmentation with no apparent or obvious cause. A new growth or mole appears, or there is a change in the appearance, size or color of an existing growth. Prior to consulting with the physician, the individual should have specific information available including:
- A full medical history of all skin conditions
- The length of time it took for the symptoms to develop
- If the development was fast or slow
- If the condition is progressively worsening
- The current color of the impacted area as opposed to the normal coloration
- Any recent skin trauma such as a sunburn
- Any medical treatments performed in the past
- If there have been any blood vessel issues
- A list of all current medications
- How many areas have been affected
Once the physician at Metro Dermatology has obtained this information, a skin examination is necessary. Diagnostic tests are often performed including a skin biopsy, examining the skin using an ultraviolet light and scraping skin lesions. If you believe you may have dyschromia, visit one of our locations in Elmhurst, Englewood, Flushing, or the Bronx to learn more. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!