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Problems With Skin Darkness

Problems With Skin Darkness Problems With Skin Darkness

Skin darkening in color can be a symptom of 128 conditions according to Wrong Causes can be as simple as a bruise or as serious as cyanosis, a potentially life-threatening condition indicating a lack of oxygen. Some of the diagnostic questions and tools dermatologists use to determine problems with skin darkness may be helpful in deciphering your skin ailments.


The first thing a dermatologist will ask you is how long have you had the skin darkness. They are trying to determine if the problem is acute or chronic. Acute is severe and of short duration while chronic is a long-term illness or condition.


If the skin darkness is generalized, it could indicate jaundice, chronic liver disease or hemochromatosis. If it's localized, where it is located is important, as Addison's disease can create skin darkness of the nipples, palmar creases, pressure areas and the mouth. McCune-Albright syndrome presents skin darkness on one side of the midline, especially on the back, buttocks or scalp. Becker's nevus presents skin darkness on one shoulder of teenage boys. Acanthosis Nigricans creates a thickened hyperpigmentation in axilla.

Sun Exposure

A dermatologist will want to discuss how much sun exposure your skin has received where the skin darkness is occurring. The sun can not only tan your skin, but it can also darken freckles, acne spots, age spots and other skin darkness.

Medical History

There are many conditions and diseases that could already be in your medical history that can cause skin darkness. Diabetes mellitus, Cushing's disease, hypothyroidism, bowel cancer, systemic sclerosis, neurofibromatosis, phaeochromocytoma and obesity associated with acanthosis nigricans can all cause skin darkness.


Certain medications can increase pigmentation of the skin as a side effect. Amiodarone, chloroquine, quinine, minocycline, zidovudine, silver, gold, estrogen hormones, chlorpromazine, phenytoin, bleomycin, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, 5-fluorouracil and iron intramuscular injections are all known to increase pigmentation.

Personal History

Overly large doses of beta-carotene found in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables can cause skin darkening. Alcohol history is important and relevant if you are diagnosed with jaundice or conditions of the liver. Family history plays an important role and the dermatologist will want to know if you have a family history of hemochromatosis, eczema, skin cancer or acanthosis nigricans.

Pregnancy Mask

During pregnancy, up to 70 percent of women develop dark patches on their skin. Often referred to as a pregnancy mask, these dark patches are melasma and are triggered by an increase in hormone levels that spurs on the creation of extra melanin. Areas most likely to darken include the nose, cheekbones, lips and jawline.

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