Skin Discoloration

Skin discoloration is characterized by skin that becomes darker, lighter, or redder in color than the surrounding skin. It most commonly occurs in areas that come in contact with the sun and harsh environmental elements, especially the face, hands, forearms, chest, and back. Cosmetic treatment can improve skin tone and restore an even balance of color.

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Common Examples

Common examples of skin discoloration include:

  • Melasma: Patches of brown skin, especially appearing on the cheeks, bridge of nose, forehead, and upper lip. Melasma mostly affects women and may be caused by UV exposure or hormonal changes resulting from pregnancy or birth control.
  • Rosacea: Redness and swelling, most commonly found in the face, neck, ears, chest, and back. Rosacea is more common in light-skinned and fair-haired adults ages 30-50.
  • Lentigos (Sun Spots/Age Spots/Liver Spots): Brown or Black spots that are flat and painless, most often found on sun-exposed areas such as the face, hands, arms, feet, and shoulders. They are most common in individuals over age 40. 


Treatments for skin discoloration include:

  • Medications (topical or oral)
  • Laser therapy: laser energy strips away discolored skin until imperfections are no longer visible
  • Liquid nitrogen: the skin is frozen so that a small blister forms, which heals on its own as the excess pigmentation disappears
  • Skin bleaching: topical liquid, cream, lotion, or gel medication may be used to lighten darkened skin patches
  • Microdermabrasion: small crystal particles may be applied to exfoliate the surface skin to remove discolored areas
  • Chemical peels: chemical treatment may be applied to remove the discolored outer layers of skin