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What is pigmentation?

Pigmentation can be described as an uneven skin tone and the result of trauma, environmental damage or hormone imbalance. The production of melanin is the body's natural defence mechanism and can be characterised as hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation.

HYPERPIGMENTATION is caused by an increase in melanin, the substance in the body that is responsible for pigment. Certain conditions, such as pregnancy, medication or trauma to the skin may cause greater production of melanin and lead to hyperpigmentation. Exposure to sunlight is a major cause of hyperpigmentation and will darken already pigmented areas. An example of hyperpigmentation is melasma or chloasma. These conditions are characterised by dark patched, most commonly on the face. Melasma can occur in pregnant women however men can also develop this condition.

HYPOPIGMENTATION is the result of a reduction in melanin production and can be categorised as:

VITILIGO appears in smooth, white patches on the skin. In some people, these patches can appear all over the body. It is an auto-immune disorder in which the pigment-producing cells are damaged.

ALBINISM is an inherited disorder cause by the absence of melanin. This results in a complete lack of pigment in skin, hair and eyes. People with albinism have abnormal gene that restricts body from producing melanin. This disorder can occur in any race, but is most common among Caucasians.

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