Skin diseases that cause discoloration are largely due to a melanin, or skin pigment, disorder. When there is a lack of melanin in the skin, it can grow lighter. This usually forms light patches of skin. Melanin is also found in the eyes and hair. There is a list of skin diseases that cause discoloration, but it is short in comparison. Most discolored or increased coloration of the skin is caused by other diseases or prescription drugs. In these cases skin color changes are merely a symptom of a larger problem. There are also skin conditions that would not be considered diseases that can change the color of the skin. These might fall under the category of rashes or sun spots.
Vitiligo is a skin disease that forms because of the destruction of melanin cells in the skin. White patches are formed on the body. It is much more noticeable in those that have darker skin, because of the contrast. Although there is no proven cause for vitiligo, it is theorized that the cause is a combination of inherited genes or an autoimmune malfunction. It seems that this skin disease is more prominent in those with other autoimmune diseases, such as hyperthyroidism and pernicious anemia. Also, if a parent has vitiligo, a child has a higher chance of contracting it. The white patches are very sensitive to sunlight, which makes it important to protect them with sunscreen or clothing. There are a number of medical treatments, which include steroid creams, psoralen photochemotherapy (ultraviolet light), depigmentation. Skin grafts and tattooing are also considered.
A list of skin diseases that cause discoloration includes Nevus Depigmentosus, also called achromicus. When the body produces a minimum of pigmentation, discoloration appears in the form of white patches. These patches grow in proportion with the person’s growth. Unlike Vitiligo, these discolorations are found usually between birth and age three, rather than later in life. The white patches are irregularly sized and seem to follow a segmented or linear pattern.
Pityriasis Alba is a common skin disease in children that starts out as a red, raised lesion, changing to a paler color and then flattening to the skin surface. They seem to primarily appear on the face and are dry and scaly. Dry weather seems to bring on more of the pale skin spots. Interestingly, this disease more often affects boys than girls. The cause of this skin disease is unknown, however it is believed to be associated with a diminishing of melanin cells, or melanosomes.