In some skin disorders, melanocytes are abnormally shaped or abnormally distributed, or produce less or more melanin. The result is very bright or very dark skin.
Albinism: albinism is a rare hereditary state. Melanocytes can not produce melanin, so people with albinism have a very brightskin, white hair and pink or light-colored eyes. It is advised to wear dark glasses and to avoid strong sunlight, as the sun is bothering the eyes and burns the skin.
Skin darkening: some diseases (e.g. Addison’s disease) can cause extensive darkening of the skin without exposure to sunlight. If your skin begins to darken for no apparent reason, contact your doctor for diagnosis and treatment of the underlying condition.
Vitiligo: it is considered that vitiligo is an autoimmune condition. Bright, irregular spots appear on the body. The disorder is rare and sometimes occurs with autoimmune diseases such as hypothyroidism.
Tinea versicolor: this common fungal infection causes bright or dark spots on the skin, often peeling, on various parts of the body.
Chloasma: due to hormonal changes in pregnancy or while taking contraceptive pills, areas of darker skin can appear on the face (especially on the cheeks) in some women. The condition sometimes improves after birth or after they stop taking pills.
Moles: moles are small, dark spots on the skin – dense clots of melanocytes. They usually develop in childhood. In some cases, mole can be in a malignant form. For more details, see malignant melanoma article.
Seborrheic warts: these are not the actual warts, but small, round or oval surfaces of dark skin. They are common and usually occurring after middle age. They look scabby and greasy.
What to do?
Most of the described conditions are harmless. However, if you are worried (especially if it is a mole or a seborrhoeic wart), contact your doctor.
Self-help: makeup and cosmetics are often the best way to get rid of bright or dark skin.
Professional help: there are certain therapies for some of the above mentioned conditions. Tinea versicolor can be cured with antifungal cream; unpleasant moles can be cut or their hair can be removed by electrolysis; there are special cosmetic preparations to cover various skin defects. If your doctor can not help you, ask him to refer you to a specialist.