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DermNet NZ


Facts about the skin from DermNet New Zealand Trust. Topic index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z



Skin pigmentation

The colour of skin and hair is mainly due to the amount of brown melanin pigment mixed with blue (from reduced haemoglobin), red (from oxyhaemoglobin) and yellow (from carotenoids in the diet). The amount of melanin is determined by constitutional colour (white, brown or black skin) and skin phototype, i.e. the result of exposure to ultraviolet radiation (tanning).

Increase in melanin (hyperpigmentation or hypermelanosis) can be due to an increased number of pigment cells (melanocytes) or from increased production of melanin.

Reduction in melanin results in pale patches (hypopigmentation or hypomelanosis) or white patches (leucoderma). See DermNet's article on pigmentation disorders for more details.

Darker skin patches
Acanthosis nigricans
Alkaptonuria
Becker naevus
Berloque dermatitis
Chloasma (melasma)
Confluent & reticulated papillomatosis
Congenital naevi
Dowling-Degos disease
Fixed drug eruption
Erythema ab igne
Erythrasma
Flagellate erythema
Freckles, lentigines
Idiopathic eruptive macular pigmentation
Laugier-Hunziker syndrome
Lichen planus pigmentosa
Lipodermatosclerosis
Melanoma
Moles
Mongolian spot
Morphoea (morphea)
Naevi of Ota & Ito
Neurofibromatosis
Ochronosis
Pigmented contact cheilitis
Pigmented purpura
Pityriasis versicolor (tinea versicolor)
Poikiloderma of Civatte
Postinflammatory (trauma, burns, skin disease)
Prurigo pigmentosa
Purpura
Systemic sclerosis
Tinea nigra
Urticaria pigmentosa, mastocytosis

Pale or white skin/patches
Albinism
Atrophie blanche
Bleaching creams
Degos disease
Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome
Halo moles
Contact leukoderma
Hypomelanosis of Ito
Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis
Leprosy
Leukoderma
Lichen sclerosus
Lupus erythematosus
Morphoea
Mycosis fungoides
Piebaldism
Pityriasis alba
Pityriasis versicolor
Poliosis
Postinflammatory (trauma, burns, skin disease)
Sarcoidosis
Systemic sclerosis
Tuberous sclerosis (ashleaf spots)
Vitiligo

Generally dark skin
Acromegaly
Addison's disease
Drug-induced pigmentation (phenothiazines, silver, chemotherapy)
Haemochromatosis
Ichthyosis
Sézary syndrome
Porphyria cutanea tarda
Systemic sclerosis
Wilson disease

Related information

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DermNet NZ does not provide an online consultation service.
If you have any concerns with your skin or its treatment, see a dermatologist for advice.