Birthmarks, Dark patches, Skin de-colouration? No longer a big deal!!

Posted by Dr. Thaj

Wondering about the uneven dark patches you see here and there on your body?

imagesWith approximately 5 million mealnocytes producing melanin, your skin colour varies from darkest brown to lightest pinkish hues. Melanin, being the single most significant substance that determines the skin colour; the higher concentration of melanin substance in your body, the darker your skin appears.

Melanin is usually distributed evenly on your skin, but sometimes it may get deposited unevenly that it causes black, brown or grey patches on your skin. Now this may not cause any serious health issues, but you definitely do not want ugly patches on your smooth skin while you present yourself to the world.

What causes skin darkening?
Exposure to Sun (tanning)-You stay more in the sun; your chances of skin getting dark are higher. Tanning occurs when melanin reacts to UV light and as it gets oxidized, it darkens. In worst cases, exposure to UV rays can even result in skin cancer, which is why you are always advised to stay out of sun .
Trauma to the skin– Hyper-pigmentation (over production of melanin) occurs following an injury to the skin (wounds/burns), acne, chemical peels, laser treatments and certain skin diseases like eczema, lichen planus, psoriasis, or following allergic reactions.
Hormonal– You are most likely to experience dark skin or patches during pregnancy, menopause or while taking contraceptive pills. Melasma/chloasma is an example and usually appears as patches on the cheeks, forehead and chin.
Medications-Intake of certain drugs like psoralens, chloroquine, phenytoin, analgesics, tetracycline etc can also result in skin darkening.
Birth marks– Patches may appear on your skin as birthmarks, right from birth or developed later on.
How these can be treated?

Treatment depends upon certain factors like:

cause of pigmentation
depth of pigmentation(superficial,mixed or deep)
type of the skin
treatment modalities available
patient  preference

One of the first things to do is prevention or worsening of pigmentation by daily application of sunscreens. Apply sunscreens regularly 20-30 minutes before you step out and don’t forget to reapply every 3-4 hours. Skin lightening treatments will work only if you religiously follow doctor’s advice about sunscreen usage.

The usual treatment modalities include skin lightening creams, chemical peels, micro dermabrasion, masks, laser treatments, camouflage etc depending on the nature of pigmentation. The results vary depending on the cause of pigmentation and usually different modalities need to be combined to achieve favourable outcome.

Birth marks and other naevoid problems are usually managed by lasers like Q switched Nd Yag laser(QSYL) or Diode laser. Treatments are usually spaced 4-6 weeks and need to be done several times. Freckles and lentigenes are treated successfully with QSYL, PDL or FRACTIONAL LASERS. Other causes of pigmentation respond to various peels, masks and medical management.