Skin Pigmentation Disorders – Causes on Dark Skin & Pictures

What are the common skin pigmentation problems? What causes dark skin pigmentation disorders? What are the causes of skin discoloration  disorders on hands in infants, adults and in dogs?

Having an even skin tone is a blessing, while a skin full of spots is seen as a curse. While you cannot avoid having dark or white spots on your skin due to your genetic makeup, you can prevent it by being careful about the kind of products you use on your skin.

Melasma is a hyperpigmentation disorder
Melasma is a hyperpigmentation disorder.

You should avoid harsh products and stick with those, which contain natural ingredients. Similarly, you should avoid the sun if you do not have any protection in form of clothes, hats or sunscreen. Furthermore, do not pick on any scars, pimples or scabs you may have on your skin as they could leave you pigmented.

If you must have plastic surgery or non-surgical treatments, choose your surgeon carefully to ensure that he or she is not only qualified, but also experienced. If you do all these and still get spots, do not be discouraged because there could be a treatment at the dermatologist’s, plastic surgeons office, in over the counter products or prescription creams and ointments or simply in natural home remedies. What are the main discoloration problems and what causes them? Find out shortly.

What Causes Skin Pigmentation Disorders?

Your skin has color due to a protein known as melanin. Melanin is produced by the melanocytes skin cells. Sometimes these cells can get overactive or underactive, this will cause problems on your skin color. Similarly, the cells may not be present or they may not produce melanin at all. What causes melanin disorders? The overproduction, underproduction of melanin or simply a lack of existence of the melanin protein causes skin pigmentation problems.

An overproduction of melanin causes you to have dark spots also known as hyperpigmentation, while the underproduction of the color protein leads to hypopigmentation or white spots. Both of these spots are unsightly and should be treated as soon as they appear by first consulting with a dermatologist.

What causes these skin discoloration disorders? What causes melanin to behave in this way could be:

  • Genetics
  • Sun exposure
  • The use of certain drugs
  • Underlying health conditions
  • Hormonal changes in both men and women
  • Inflammation from burns, injuries, pimples or friction

Skin Pigmentation Disorders

If you thought skin disorders were only present in human beings, then you are wrong. Even animals too experience them. Adult human beings are the most affected due to various lifestyles and the use of many skin care products as they strive for fairness and flawlessness. However, even children too have their share of skin disorders on their delicate skin.

Skin color disorders in adults comprise of both hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation. The hyperpigmentation disorders, which are more common than hypopigmentation comprise of the following:


This is prominent in women, but a few men also get it and it appears as symmetric patches on face or the abdomen. Women will have melasma, also known as pregnancy mask when expectant. Similarly, when women make use of certain oral contraceptives and uterine devices as well as implants they may have their skin hyperpigmented because these interfere with the levels of hormones. Pre and postmenopausal women also suffer this kind of hyperpigmentation. Women with melasma because of contraceptives can always switch to other drugs with the help of qualified doctors.

Liver spots are related to hyperpigmentation.
Liver spots are related to hyperpigmentation.

Melasma can be epidermal or dermal. Epidermal melasma is superficial and is light brownish in color, while the dermal kind is deeply rooted and has a grayish color. Prolonged sun exposure, anti-consulvants and anti- malarial drugs may also trigger Melasma.

Liver Spots

Hyperpigmentation caused by liver spots, also known as solar lentigenes makes appearance, as adults grow older. These are due to years of sun exposure. Their colors range from red, brown to black.


Red haired people regardless of their ethnic background are born with the genes that cause freckling. Freckles become prominent when you stay under the sun for long hours. These are the only “cute” disorders according to some people. However, those who have them wish them gone.

Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

When you injure, cut or burn yourself a wound is formed. The same case when you have a pimple on you face or chest. When the wound heals, the color on the spot where the burn or pimple was may change greatly. This is what is known as post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and may be seen on most scars. Some adults may suffer more of these than others do, especially those who have skin prone to breakouts.

Preorbital Hyperpigmentation

These disorders are found around the eyes. They could indicate underlying medical conditions or simply fatigue. Do not deny yourself a goodnight sleep you risk having puffy or dark circles around your eyes. If this persists for longer period, consult with a doctor for a comprehensive check up.

Hypopigmentation skin disorders on the other hand comprise of white patches and not the common dark spots. Hypopigmentation treatment at home is controversial and you may have to seek the help of a dermatologist or surgeon. Hypopigmentation is diagnosed as follows:

Sun exposure can cause hyperpigmentation
Avoid sun exposure.
  • Vitiligo
  • Pityriasis alba
  • Tinea versicolor
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Guttate parapsoriasis
  • Psoriasis
  • Albinism
  • Nummular eczema

Skin Pigmentation Disorders in Infants

Babies have skin too and very delicate one for that matter. In infants they are caused by:

  • Pityriaisis alba
  • Post inflammatory discoloration from baby acne, prick heat rash, intertrigo
  • Birthmarks
  • Congenital nevi or moles
  • Café au lait spots
  • Macular stains

Skin Pigmentation Disorders in Dogs

Canines too suffer from pigmentation disorders, am not talking about the adorable Dalmatians, but skin problems that indicate an underlying condition. Usually if there is an underlying condition, the coat of the dog will flake, itch, crust and even ulcerate. There may also be hair loss, lack of appetite or fever. The common causes of these disorders are:

  • Aprocrine sweat gland cyst
  • Follicular cyst
  • Dudley nose, darker spot on nose
  • Vitiligo
  • Red brown stains from the dog’s saliva
  • Basal cell tumors
  • Acanthosis nigricans an inherited condition
  • Cushing disease among others

If you notice bluish to black spots on your canine, book an appointment with a vet and have your pet checked for proper diagnosis.

Treating Dark Skin Pigmentation Disorders

Unfortunately, treating dark skin pigmentation can be one of the hardest things to do. This is because the hyperpigmentation could bring about hypopigmentation and vice versa. Therefore, if you are seeking treatment from a surgeon or dermatologist, ensure that you find the most qualified and experienced in your town even if it means spending more.

Do not rush to get laser treatment as most of the time it could make the pigmentation disorders worse. You could try creams first before proceeding to get lasers and other harsh treatments. If you must use a hyperpigmentation cream, ensure that you use it on the specific spot for the period indicated by your doctor or the instructions.

Furthermore, your skin must be protected with a high factor sun block at all times to avoid darker or lighter patches regardless of being outdoors or indoors.

Skin Pigmentation Disorders Pictures

The following skin pigmentation disorders pictures shows how certain pigmentation appears on dark or Caucasian skin. These include post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, vitiligo-a case of hypopigmentation and both hypo and hyperpigmentation in one.

Dogs too can suffer from melasma
Dogs too can suffer from melasma

If you notice such spots on your face or body, seek medical advice before trying to treat them yourself. A second opinion on the best treatment is also advisable to avoid one disorder from turning to another.

Skin Pigmentation Disorders Vitiligo – Causes and Treatment

Vitiligo occurs when your immune system destroy the cells that produce melanin. This autoimmune disorder is common in dark skin people. Other races may get it as well. Those who are at risk of vitiligo include those who are below 40 years of age, people who have it in their family lineage, those who have premature graying of hair and people with autoimmune health conditions.

Vitiligo affects eyelids, body folds, areas exposed to sunlight and hair as well. You can camouflage it with permanent makeup if it does not cover large areas on skin. Similarly, you can go for professional:

  • Repigmentation
  • Depigmentation
  • Skin grafting
  • UV light therapy
  • Or prescription creams

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