What is dyschromia?

Dyschromia is a condition in which uniformity is not present within melanocytes, the cells responsible for the pigmentation of skin. The more melanocytes present in the skin, the darker the skin color, and the fewer melanocytes there are, the lighter the skin color. With dyschromia, patches of skin with nonuniform levels of melanocytes are observed to cause discoloration. The two classifications within this condition are hyperpigmentation (dark spots) and hypopigmentation (light spots). Dyschromia can take form as freckles, age spots, melasma, liver spots, chloasma, lentigines, etc.

What all causes dyschromia?

The causes of dyschromia can vary. The most common causes are squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, cuts, scrapes, moles, medication-induced photosensitivity, vitiligo, sunburn, insect bites, wounds, radiation therapy, erythrasma, etc.

What does treatment look like?

  • Microdermabrasion: This noninvasive cosmetic treatment requires multiple sessions and aims to expose newer, healthier skin to the surface. Small, coarse crystals are rubbed across the skin with a wand to gently exfoliate and remove the top layer of the skin.
  • Q-switched laser: The Q-switched laser is a high intensity beam of light that releases multitudes of short strong pulses to break down pigmentation and increase cell turnover for new skin to form at a faster pace.
  • Topical creams: Hydroquinone is a bleaching agent that helps to lighten hyperpigmented skin. Tretinoin and steroid creams can be also applied to further aid the skin’s ability to lighten hyperpigmented lesions.
  • Chemical peels: A specific chemical is applied on the surface of the skin to exfoliate the top layer of skin and promote smoother, healthier skin. This procedure is done multiple times until the desired appearance of the skin is achieved.