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What Causes a Loss of Pigmentation?

Loss of pigmentation, or depigmentation, can occur due to conditions like vitiligo, albinism, or skin damage. It's a result of melanin reduction, the pigment responsible for skin color. Genetics, immune system irregularities, and environmental factors play roles. Intrigued by how these elements interact to affect your skin? Discover more about the science behind pigmentation changes in our detailed exploration.
Meshell Powell
Meshell Powell

The loss of pigmentation of the skin can be caused by a number of factors, and it may be at least partially reversible in some cases. An autoimmune disorder known as vitiligo is one of the most common causes, and others include skin infections, acne, or scars that develop as the result of previous injuries or surgical procedures. Medical conditions such as pityriasis alba or nevus depigmentosus may also lead to a loss of pigmentation.

Vitiligo is a type of autoimmune disorder that causes the pigment cells to die. This often leads to the development of pale, white splotches of skin on various parts of the body. This can be a cause of great embarrassment, although it is not particularly hazardous to the health of the patient. Those with this condition do need to wear sunscreen on the affected areas in order to reduce the chances of sunburn and other forms of sun damage that could increase the risks of developing skin cancer.

A hand with a loss of pigmentation.
A hand with a loss of pigmentation.

Scars are another potential contributing factor to the loss of pigmentation. Scars can develop for many reasons, including accidental injury, severe acne, or various surgical procedures. In some cases, some of the skin coloring may return, although if the pigment cells have been severely damaged or destroyed, they are unable to regenerate.

Pityriasis alba is a skin disorder that affects some children. A rash that is lighter in color than the rest of the skin develops, usually on the face, although other areas of the body may be affected as well. The exact cause of this condition is unknown, although it is often thought to be a mild form of eczema. This rash will eventually go away on its own without any medical treatment, even though it may take several months for it to disappear.

Severe acne can lead to scarring that changes the pigmentation of skin.
Severe acne can lead to scarring that changes the pigmentation of skin.

Nevus depigmentosus causes localized white spots to develop on various areas of the skin. These spots are considered permanent, as no effective treatment method has been found to repigment the skin. Anyone who has these sports or other pigmentation concerns should discuss them with a medical professional. A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin disorders and may be the most qualified type of healthcare professional for this purpose.

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Discussion Comments

anon1003819

I have skin pigmentation loss on my fingers and have been slowly spreading over the last 5 or 6 years. Is there anything to take or apply to stop the spreading? Possibly in diet?

bear78

@SarahGen-- Yes, there is canine vitiligo. But loss of pigmentation in the dog's skin could be due to many different reasons. It could be a skin infection or disease, a vitamin deficiency or even related to an injury or the climate.

You should get it diagnosed and treated. Meanwhile, I would recommend getting omega 3 and zinc supplements for your dog. These are very beneficial for skin and hair. If the loss of pigmentation has to due with a deficiency, it might just do the trick.

SarahGen

Can dogs have vitiligo?

I've noticed that several of the pads underneath my dog's paw has lost color. They used to be black!

ZipLine

I have a scar on my arm. I burned it when I was working at a restaurant in high school. It was a serious burn, it took over a month for it to completely heal. The new skin that grew where the burn was has no pigmentation. I'm olive skin but the scar is pure white. It kind of bothers me when I see it but I don't think there is anything I can do.

My mom has the same thing on her leg where she had surgery. Her scar doesn't have pigmentation either. I think this type of loss of pigmentation in skin is called scar tissue, right?

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    • A hand with a loss of pigmentation.
      By: Axel Bückert
      A hand with a loss of pigmentation.
    • Severe acne can lead to scarring that changes the pigmentation of skin.
      By: Budimir Jevtic
      Severe acne can lead to scarring that changes the pigmentation of skin.
    • People who suffer from vitiligo and are in the sun for a prolonged period of time should wear sunglasses and a hat.
      By: Ferrante Pietro
      People who suffer from vitiligo and are in the sun for a prolonged period of time should wear sunglasses and a hat.
    • Someone who has loss pigmentation will be more vulnerable to sunburn.
      By: Glamy
      Someone who has loss pigmentation will be more vulnerable to sunburn.
    • Vitiligo is a type of autoimmune disorder that causes the pigment cells to die.
      By: Axel Bueckert
      Vitiligo is a type of autoimmune disorder that causes the pigment cells to die.
    • Pityriasis alba is often thought to be a mild form of eczema.
      By: Jingling Water
      Pityriasis alba is often thought to be a mild form of eczema.
    • Individuals with vitiligo should wear sunscreen on the affected areas to reduce sun damage.
      By: Konstantin Yuganov
      Individuals with vitiligo should wear sunscreen on the affected areas to reduce sun damage.
    • Sun exposure can worsen a pityriasis rash.
      By: altanaka
      Sun exposure can worsen a pityriasis rash.