Dyschromia is a condition characterized by discolored patches of skin, and it can also affect the hair and nails. There are two broad categories: hyperpigmentation in which the patches are abnormally dark and hypopigmentation in which they are abnormally light. Vitiligo is an example of dyschromia with hypopigmentation.
Dyschromia has multiple causes. Hypopigmentation is sometimes seen in eczema. Hyperpigmentation is sometimes caused by hormonal changes caused by pregnancy or birth control pills, and it sometimes goes away by itself. The most common cause, however, is sun exposure. Dyschromia is especially likely to occur in people who have had multiple suntans or sunburns. There are usually no other symptoms associated with dyschromia, but some people do develop an itch.
While most causes of dyschromia are benign, some are not. Both lupus and skin cancer can also cause skin discoloration, for example. If the doctor suspects such a cause, he will take a skin biopsy to determine the cause of the discolored skin.
What are some of the treatment options?
Intense pulsed light (IPL)
IPL is technically not a laser, but the machine produces powerful and quick flashes of light derived from wavelengths that can and will be absorbed by skin with red or brown pigments. That absorption causes heat to be generated that destroys or damages the source of the abnormal color. The body then removes it, and the resultant skin tone looks more homogenous and even. IPL also makes the patient’s skin look brighter and more youthful.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
In photodynamic therapy, the doctor applies a photosensitive cream to the affected skin which absorbs it. The doctor then exposes the patient to a red light that triggers a photochemical reaction within the body that causes the activation of the body’s immune system and the release of cytotoxic. Together, these entities destroy the abnormal skin cells.
Fractional CO2 Laser Resurfacing
Fractional CO2 Laser Resurfacing is a new skin-resurfacing technique. The doctor uses a machine that aims the CO2 laser at the skin through a computer-generated pattern. The laser punches microscopic holes into the skin which causes the skin to produce more collagen and tightens the skin. The procedure also leaves healthy normal skin undamaged which minimizes damage and promotes quick healing.
At Metro Dermatology, we offer both medical and cosmetic dermatology treatments that are designed to keep your skin healthy, glowing and radiant. During your consultation, our medical team will work with you to determine the most appropriate and effective treatments for your individual needs. Contact Metro Dermatology today to schedule your consultation.