Melanin is a substance that creates the pigmentation, or colour, of a person's skin. However, there are various illnesses that can cause changes in melanin, affecting pigmentation. Changes in melanin are occasionally seen after rashes, skin infections, burns and blisters, as the skin attempts to recover. While some illnesses that cause changes in melanin are not curable, melanin changes after a rash are not permanent, and typically go away after a period of time.
One of the changes in melanin that can occur is characterised as a darkening of the skin, also known as hyperpigmentation. Increased melanin causes spots or areas of the skin to darken, and typically occur after illness, medications or rashes. Hyperpigmentation can also occur during pregnancy. Hyperpigmentation during pregnancy is called melasma and appear as dark patches or blotches on the face. While this is common to pregnancy, it can also occur in men and non-pregnant women. Exposure to sunlight will only worsen the condition.
Hypopigmentation has the opposite affect on the skin. Decreased melanin causes the lightening of the skin. The most common, incurable forms of hypopigmentation include vitiligo, characterised by smooth white patches on the skin, and albinism, which is the absence of melanin, leaving the skin without pigmentation. Vitiligo can be treated cosmetically. Hypopigmentation is also characteristic of scars left by a skin rash. However, this form of hypopigmentation typically repairs itself over time.
After a Rash
Certain rashes, such as eczema, psoriasis, fungal infections, lichen planus and prtyriasis rosecea are known for causing changes in melanin, also known as post inflammatory hyper or hypopigmentation. After a rash a person may experience hyperpigmentation due to the fact that cells are working extra hard to produce melanin, thereby causing a darkening of the skin. Individuals with darker skin may experience hyperpigmentation after a bout of acne. On the opposite end of the spectrum, scars that are hypopigmented will appear as white elliptical discs on the skin.
What to Do
The most important thing you can do before worrying about the pigmentation of your skin is effectively treat the rash. Treating changes in melanin before treating the rash itself may make things worse. Changes in melanin after a rash are likely to fade over time. You can enhance repair time with natural and chemical treatments, such as rubbing ginger on the skin, which has shown effective for hypopigmentation after four to 12 weeks. Consult your doctor regarding chemical treatments for hyperpigmentation.
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