Hypopigmentation is a lightening of your skin color. Injuries or skin conditions are the primary cause of hypopigmentation. Treatment depends on what caused hypopigmentation, but it may involve medications or therapies. If you have scars or albinism, there’s no treatment available.
Hypopigmentation is a low amount of melanin in your skin. Patches of your skin are lighter in color than your surrounding skin.
Your skin, hair and eyes get their color from a chemical called melanin. When your skin cells don’t make enough melanin, areas of your skin become lighter.
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Injuries to your skin are the most common cause of hypopigmentation, including:
As these injuries heal, scars may develop that are lighter than your surrounding skin.
Rare genetic conditions may cause hypopigmentation over wide areas of your skin. Some of these genetic conditions include:
Other hypopigmentation causes include:
Some skin treatments may also cause hypopigmentation, including:
Hypopigmentation treatment depends on what caused your skin to lighten.
If you have hypopigmentation from injuries to your skin or skin treatment, you likely won’t need treatment. Your skin cells will start to make melanin again as your affected areas heal. Hypopigmentation will usually go away after a few weeks or months.
If you have pityriasis alba, psoriasis or eczema, hypopigmentation usually goes away on its own without treatment. It may take a few weeks or months.
If hypopigmentation is a symptom of a skin condition, certain medications can treat it. These medications may include corticosteroids and topical calcineurin inhibitors, including tacrolimus ointment and pimecrolimus cream.
Phototherapy is effective if you have hypopigmentation from laser treatments (laser-induced hypopigmentation). These treatments include laser hair removal, laser tattoo removal or laser skin resurfacing. It uses ultraviolet (UV) light from special lamps. Your healthcare provider may use a drug called psoralen combined with ultraviolet A (PUVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB). Studies suggest that phototherapy helps treat laser-induced hypopigmentation in skin of color.
There aren’t any effective treatments for albinism or scars that have hypopigmentation.
It depends on what’s causing your hypopigmentation.
If you have albinism or hypopigmentation from scars, it’s permanent.
Hypopigmentation from injuries, treatments and certain skin conditions may go away on its own or go away after treatment.
Certain home remedies may help improve the appearance of your hypopigmentation. These may include:
Home remedies are safe for most people. However, it’s a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before trying some of these options.
Some people believe that vitamin C may help hypopigmentation in damaged skin. Vitamin C helps protect the cells in your body and helps form collagen. Collagen gives structure, strength and elasticity to your skin.
You may take vitamin C as an oral supplement, or you may apply it directly onto your skin. Vitamin C lotions or creams make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so use sunscreen on a daily basis while using a product that contains vitamin C.
You’re at a greater risk of developing skin cancer if you have albinism. Your healthcare provider can tell you the best ways to protect and take care of your skin.
See your healthcare provider if you have lichen sclerosus. Having lichen sclerosus increases your chances of developing a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma if left untreated.
Hypopigmentation can also affect your mental health. It can make you worry about how others look at you. It can also affect how you think about yourself and your behavior. If hypopigmentation causes you stress, anxiety or depression, see your healthcare provider right away.
Microneedling may be able to treat hypopigmentation. However, there isn’t enough research to say for sure.
During microneedling, your healthcare provider uses a device that pokes your skin with thin needles. The tiny punctures in your skin stimulate the growth of new collagen and elastin fibers. They may also stimulate your skin cells to make more pigment.
Hyperpigmentation makes some areas of your skin darker than others. Damaged or unhealthy skin cells produce too much melanin. The melanin can clump, causing that area to appear darker.
Vitiligo is a disorder that causes your skin to lose its color. Hypopigmentation is a symptom of vitiligo.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Sometimes, your skin cells produce too little pigment. This can create patches of skin that look lighter than your surrounding skin. Hypopigmentation may improve or go away on its own. If a skin condition causes hypopigmentation, medications may help restore color to your skin. If you have a genetic condition, hypopigmentation may be permanent. Be sure to use sunscreen on your light patches of skin. You may feel self-conscious if you have hypopigmentation. See your healthcare provider right away if it affects your mental health.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/27/2022.
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