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December 17, 2020

The different forms of pigmentation disorders

Pigment spot treatment Berlin

If color pigments form in the skin in an atypical way, these are known as pigment disorders. These visible features of the skin are usually harmless, but can also occur in connection with a disease. The pigmentation can be either increased (hyperpigmentation) or too little (hypopigmentation) in the corresponding areas. Depending on the case, the pigment disorders appear as red to brownish spots or as whitish patches of skin. We have listed the different forms of pigment disorders and show how benign pigment disorders can be reduced with laser treatment.

(Image: ©Pixel-Shot – stock.adobe.com)

The birthmark

Moles are also known colloquially as liver spots and are one of the most common forms of pigmented skin changes. These are usually brown to black spots on the skin. They rarely show a bluish or red color. Most of the patches are monochrome. Moles are generally harmless. An increased tendency to moles can be inherited. This means that these pigment spots can occur more frequently within a family and the spots are often located on similar parts of the body.

Moles can generally appear all over the body. They can also have different shapes and forms: There are smooth, rough, round, oval, flat and raised moles, some of which can also be hairy. The first moles may already be present at birth, while others only form in the course of life.

Even if moles are usually harmless, they should be kept under observation and regularly examined by a dermatologist. This is because some of the moles can develop into malignant melanomas over time. Especially if moles change color or shape, start to bleed easily or are inflamed, a medical consultation and careful examination should take place.

The pigment spot

A strong local accumulation of the skin pigment melanin can lead to skin-level spots known as pigment spots. They are caused by UV radiation. This is why they are often found on areas of the body that are easily and frequently exposed to the sun. This includes the face, neck, arms, shoulders and the backs of the hands.

Typical pigment spots are freckles and age spots. An increased appearance of pigment spots can occur during pregnancy, as the body increases melanin production during this time. This type of pigmentation is also known as chloasma or melasma. After pregnancy and childbirth, the pigment spots no longer recede in many women. In some cases, they may fade somewhat, but they usually remain visible and can only be removed with the help of appropriate therapy.

The freckles

A congenital maldistribution of the skin pigment melanin in the cells causes the typical small skin spots, which mainly affect people with light skin and light hair color. In the sunnier seasons, the body’s own melanin production is boosted even more, which can make freckles more noticeable. As the increased melanin is not evenly distributed in the cells, the skin of people with freckles is more susceptible to UV rays and sun damage. For this reason, the right sun protection is all the more important. Freckles are harmless and do not need to be treated from a health point of view.

The age spots

During our lives, our skin is exposed to the sun and various other influences for many hours. That leaves its mark. With increasing age, this can lead to red to brown discoloration of the skin, known as age spots. They occur mainly on the face, décolleté and hands. Age spots do not usually go away on their own. If those affected are bothered by the skin changes, dermatological treatment is therefore necessary. One of the most modern measures against unwanted spots on the skin is gentle laser therapy.

Vitiligo – a chronic skin disease

In addition to the aforementioned hyperpigmentation, there is also hypopigmentation, which is characterized by light rather than dark patches of skin. One example is the rare chronic skin disease called vitiligo. It is also commonly referred to as white spot disease. The disease does not produce “too many” pigments, but destroys the pigment-producing cells. As a result, white patches suddenly appear on the body, which can spread over time. Vitiligo is neither dangerous nor contagious. Nevertheless, the phenomenon often severely restricts those affected, as they feel inhibited, stared at and excluded by their special appearance.

Laser therapy for moles, age spots and pigment spots

In principle, it is not necessary to remove benign skin changes such as moles, pigmentation or age spots. However, they can sometimes detract from the appearance – especially as they are usually located on highly visible areas such as the face or hands.

In modern laser therapy, focused light energy is delivered to the tissue and absorbed by the color pigments. The pigments are damaged by the energy and can then be absorbed or removed by the body. In the case of raised benign moles, the laser is used to vaporize the top layer of skin using pulses of light that are converted into heat. This removes the elevations.

Despite being well tolerated and gentle, the treatments should only be carried out by an experienced dermatologist. This is the only way to ensure patient safety and successful treatment. From next year 2021, laser applications may only be carried out by licensed doctors by law, as laypersons can more quickly suffer consequences such as burns and skin damage. It is also very important that any skin changes are always assessed by a dermatologist beforehand. Only a specialist can determine whether laser treatment can be carried out or whether there are any health risks.

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