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You are here : AllRefer.com > Health > Medical Symptoms > Skin color - patchy

Skin color - patchy

Alternate Names : Dyschromia, Mottling


Definition

Patchy skin color refers to areas of irregular skin coloring. Mottling or mottled skin refers specifically to blood vessel changes in the skin which cause a patchy appearance.

Overview & Considerations

Irregular or patchy discoloration of the skin can be caused by:

  • Changes in melanin, a substance produced in the skin cells that gives skin its color
  • Growth of foreign organisms on the skin
  • Blood vessel (vascular) changes

The following can increase or decrease melanin production:

  • Your genes
  • Heat
  • Injury
  • Exposure to solar or ionizing radiation
  • Exposure to heavy metals
  • Changes in hormone levels

Exposure to sun or ultraviolet (UV) light, especially after taking a medicine called psoralens, may increase pigmentation. Increased pigment production is called hyperpigmentation.

Decreased pigment production is called hypopigmentation.

Skin color changes can be a single disorder, or they may result from other medical conditions or disorders.

How much skin pigmentation you have can determine, to some extent, which skin diseases you may be more likely to develop. For example, lighter-skinned people are more sensitive to sun exposure and damage, which raises the risk for skin cancers. However, too much sun exposure can lead to skin cancers even in darker-skinned people. See:

Generally, pigment changes are cosmetic and do not affect physical health. However, psychological stress can occur because of pigment changes. Some pigment changes may be a sign that you are at risk for other medical disorders.

Common Causes
Pictures & Images

Acanthosis nigricans - close-up
Acanthosis nigricans - close-up

Acanthosis nigricans on the hand
Acanthosis nigricans on the hand

Neurofibromatosis, giant cafe-au-lait spot
Neurofibromatosis, giant cafe-au-lait spot

Vitiligo, drug induced
Vitiligo, drug induced

Vitiligo on the face
Vitiligo on the face

Cutis marmorata on the leg
Cutis marmorata on the leg

Halo nevus
Halo nevus

     
      See all Pictures & Images



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Review Date : 8/12/2009
Reviewed By : Michael Lehrer, M.D., Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.



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