Skin discolouration is one of the most common aesthetic defects that can affect people of all ages, although the frequency of its formation increases with age. Skin discolouration may vary in size, shape and colour, and its most common location is the face, hands and cleavage.
Skin discolouration is the consequence of excessive accumulation of melanin, which is a physiological skin pigment. Melanin provides a characteristic shade to the skin and protects it from the harmful effects of UV radiation. Discolouration occurs when melanocytes (melanin producing cells) do not work properly. Depending on the depth of the discolouration changes, they are divided into epidermal discolourations (more shallow) and skin discolourations (localized within the dermis). The most common discolouration arises in those areas of the skin that are most exposed to sunlight. Such discolouration on the face, hands or neckline is a serious aesthetic problem, because it is perfectly visible and difficult to cover up. Skin discolouration usually takes the form of:
– post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
– acne hyperpigmentation
Discolouration on the face is mainly caused by excessive exposure to the sun. UV radiation fosters excessive activation of melanocytes and local accumulation of skin pigment. The emergence of sunlit discolourations on the face and hands is also fostered by photosensitizing compounds contained in medicines, perfumes, and cosmetics. There is frequent skin discolouration during pregnancy, in the course of menopause and also during the use of oral hormonal contraception. Then, the cause of skin discolouration is hormonal disorders.
With age, so-called lentigines (age spots, hepatic spots) develop, which arise due to the cumulative effect of these factors.
Discolouration after acne is a specific type of skin discolouration, resulting from inflammation, most often associated with scratching acne lesions. As a consequence, melanin is overproduced and discolouration of the pink-brown colour appears, which are often accompanied by acne scars. Post-acne discolouration can give way spontaneously, but it takes many months. Such post-inflammatory skin discolouration may also occur in places of skin burns, and also after the skin lesions have gone down in the course of smallpox or other viral infections.