But what about Hypopigmentation? On a basic level, Hypopigmentation is described as a loss of skin color. While Hyperpigmentation is caused by an increase in melanin (the substance that gives our skin and hair its color) Hypopigmentation is the result of a reduction in melanin production. Most of us have experienced Hypopigmentation as a result of trauma (a cut or burn) or sun damage (those white spots you see on your skin).
There are certain types of Hypopigmentation which require the attention of a dermatologist or other health professional. These include Vitiligo; Albinism; and Tinea Versicolor (fungal infection). More commonly, Hypopigmentation is caused by some trauma—a blister or a burn—that may affect the area with a loss of pigment and cause white spots on the skin. It’s important to ensure that such areas of Hypopigmentation are well protected from the sun; lack of melanin makes the skin far more vulnerable to sun damage. These white spots tend to be temporary; eventually the skin will heal and return to its usual color once the body regenerates pigment.
While we normally associated sun damage with Hyperpigmentation, excess UV exposure can also cause a loss of color in the skin. Areas of sun damage-induced Hypopigmentation (white spots and areas of de-pigmented skin) usually occur alongside sun spots and are irreversible. The lesson here? In order to prevent both Hyper- and Hypopigmentation, it’s essential to protect the skin from the sun on a daily basis.