Light Blotches on Dark Skin
Your skin's coloring is due to pigment cells known as melanin that mix with other vitamins and minerals in the body, including carotenoids in the diet that give your skin a yellow tinge, according to DermNet NZ. While most of your skin is evenly pigmented, it is possible to experience areas of lighter pigmentation.
When you experience light blotches on dark skin, this often is the result of damage or destruction to the pigment-producing melanocytes of the body, according to Skinsight. The result can be areas of light blotches on the skin. Dark skin is especially susceptible because it contains higher amounts of melanin. Destruction of these cells is more noticeable against darker skin.
Burns, blisters and skin infections can all result in lighter blotches on dark skin, according to the "Merck Manual." This occurs when your skin loses pigment, often temporarily. Vitiligo is a disorder that results when your body's immune system attacks pigment cells, creating white patches on the skin, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The tendency to experience areas of skin hypopigmentation also can be due to a hereditary condition.
It is a common misconception that people with darker skin do not experience sunburns or require sunscreen application, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Although people with darker skin do have more melanin pigment to protect against skin cancer and sun damage, they are still susceptible to hypopigmentation issues due to sun exposure. You should wear a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or more before going outside to prevent postinflammatory pigmentation issues due to sun exposure.
While not all areas of pigmentation are cause for concern, seek medical treatment if your skin begins to lighten in patches but you have not experienced an injury or applied skin cream, according to Skinsight. If the area of pigmentation difference feels numb or causes you to lose sensation, seek medical attention. Your physician will likely take a skin sample to test the skin cells.
Using certain topical medications can create areas of lighter-pigmented skin in people with very dark skin, according to Skinsight. This includes strong cortisone creams and products that contain benzoyl peroxide. Read labels carefully for warnings concerning skin pigmentation issues, and then use a test patch of skin in a nonvisible place to ensure it will not negatively affect your skin.
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