Hypopigmentation is a skin condition where the skin is lighter than normal, usually the skin is completely white. Skin is given its color due to the pigment melanin.
Types of Hypopigmentation
There are three basic types of hypopigmentation: vitiligo, albinism and pigmentation loss.
Vitiligo is a condition where smooth, white patches of skin develop on the skin. It is an autoimmune disorder where the cells that produce the pigment are damaged. It is most common on the face, elbows, knees, hands and feet.
Albinism is a disorder which is inherited where an enzyme responsible for the production of melanin is absent or there exists a problem with the distribution of melanin. This results in no pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes.
There are two types of albinism. Type 1 is caused by defects that affect production of the melanin pigment. People with Type 2 has a defect in the P gene and they are usually born with a slight coloration. Oculocutaneous albinism is the most severe form with white or pink hair, skin and eyes associated with vision problems. Ocular albinism Type 1 only affects the eyes. Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome is a form of albinism caused by a single gene can be associated with a bleeding disorder, lung disease and bowel disease. Chediak-Higashi Syndrome, Tuberous sclerosis and Waardenburg Syndrome are forms of localized albinism.
Skin damage can result in loss of pigmentation at the scar site. Skin damage can be caused by infection, burns, trauma or blisters.
Treatments for Hypopigmentation
Vitiligo is treated with phototherapy with ultraviolet light treatments sometimes associated with a drug that makes the skin sensitive to light or topical medications such as corticosteroid creams, immunosuppressant creams or ointments. Some examples of immunosuppressant creams most commonly used are Pimecrolimus (Elidel) or Tacrolimus (Protopic) and Methoxsalen (Oxsoralen) is a topical drug commonly used.
The following list contains some examples of products available for purchase through Amazon.com. Prices are subject to change. See a dermatologist or your physician before purchasing or using these products.
VITILIGEL® PROTOPIC GEL 100ml for $73.95.
Vitiligo Treatment By Microdose -1 Month Supply for $49.99.
Callumae Vitiligo Skin Pigmentation Support for $47.00.
Cover-up cosmetics can also be used to disguise the white spots.
Original 9 Piece super value Smart Cover-Up Kit — ‘Dark’ for$29.75
MISSHA M PERFECT COVER BB CREAM SPF42 No. 21 20ML for $5.99.
More drastic treatments include a skin graft or depigmenting the rest of the skin. This last option is where all of the skin is depigmented permanently.
There is no cure for Albinism since it is an inherited result of an abnormal gene. This disorder can occur in any race. There are genetic tests which can show the disorder. The skin and eyes of the albino must be protected from sun damage.
Loss of pigmentation due to skin damage is usually not permanent and the coloration will eventually return on its own.
There are a number of support groups to help people that suffer from the above disorders.
Vitiligo Support Groups
American Vitiligo Research Foundation — www.avrf.org
National Vitiligo Foundation — www.nvfi.org
VitiligoSupport.com — www.vitiligosupport.org
Albinism Support Groups
National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation — www.albinism.org
International Albinism Center — www.med.umn.edu/ophthalmology/centers/albinism/home.html
Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome Network — www.hpsnetwork.org
If you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of hypopigmentation, know that you are not alone. Hypopigmentation is a rather common occurrence in some countries. Also take heart in knowing that hypopigmentation is not life-threatening.
University of Maryland Medical Center. Vitiligo Overview. Available at http://www.umm.edu/ency/article/000831.htm.
University of Maryland Medical Center. Albinism All Information. Available at http://www.umm.edu/ency/article/001479all.htm#ixzz1uOuSzIen.