Hypopigmentation: Causes, Risk Factors, Treatments, More (2024)

When your skin cells don’t produce enough melanin, you may observe light patches of skin that stand out against your typical skin tone. This condition is called hypopigmentation.

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Hypopigmentation refers to patches of skin that are lighter than your overall skin tone. Your skin’s pigmentation, or color, is based on the production of a substance called melanin.

If your skin cells don’t produce enough melanin, the skin can lighten. These effects can occur in spots or may cover your entire body.

Genetic and severe environmental conditions can cause melanin disruption. It’s important to identify the root cause before undergoing treatment.

Here’s more on what may be causing your symptoms, what to expect from diagnosis, your options for treatment, and more.

Problems with melanin production are linked to a variety of causes. Some are genetic conditions that may result in lighter skin throughout the body. Others are related to previous injuries, such as burns.

It’s also possible for hypopigmentation from an injury to develop into an associated condition.

Some of the most common conditions include:


Albinism is best known for extremely pale skin that may have little to no color. This genetic condition can also make your hair white and your eyes light blue in color. People with albinism are born with this condition because of a genetic mutation.


Like albinism, vitiligo is characterized by lighter skin. However, this occurs in patches that cover your skin, rather than a widespread lack of color. The exact cause of vitiligo is unknown. People who have this condition can develop lighter patches of skin anywhere on the body.

Pityriasis alba

Pityriasis alba refers to leftover white spots from previous cases of red, scaly skin patches. This condition tends to heal on its own over time. There’s no definitive cause for pityriasis alba, though it’s thought to be related to eczema. Children with this condition may outgrow it in adulthood.

Tinea versicolor

Tinea (pityriasis) versicolor stems from a fungal infection that occurs from overactive yeast on the skin. Though it doesn’t lead to complications, the resulting scaly spots can become a nuisance.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), this is one of the most prevalent skin diseases among people living in tropical or subtropical regions because these environments help fungus thrive. You may also be more prone to tinea versicolor if you sweat a lot or have oily skin.

Lichen sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus causes white patches that may eventually enlarge, bleed, and scar. These patches occur in the anal and genital areas. They can also develop on the breasts, arms, and upper body. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), lichen sclerosis is most common in women experiencing menopause.

Other causes

Widespread hypopigmentation is often genetic. That said, it’s possible for acquired conditions to result in temporary and even long-term discoloration.

This includes:

  • Atopic dermatitis. Also known as eczema, this skin condition causes red patches that are extremely itchy. As the skin heals, the patches may turn white.
  • Contact dermatitis. Touching chemicals may lead to this type of eczema and may cause lightened skin.
  • Healed blisters. As blisters heal, the affected skin flattens and may turn darker or lighter in color.
  • Infections of the skin. As your skin heals, lighter pigments may appear in areas affected by the infection.
  • Psoriasis. This autoimmune disorder causes your skin to produce new cells at an accelerated rate. Resulting silver and red patches may eventually heal and look lighter than the rest of your skin.
  • Scars and burns. These can lead to scar tissue that’s lighter than the surrounding skin.

Your doctor will rely on results from a physical exam and information about your family history to make a diagnosis.

During your physical, your doctor will assess all areas of skin and make note of any areas where pigmentation is lighter than others. They’ll also make note of any suspicious-looking moles or any other areas of concern.

In some cases, your doctor will perform a biopsy. For this procedure, they’ll scrape a small sample of skin off to send to a laboratory for further analysis. This is most common with suspected cases of lichen sclerosus, pityriasis alba, and tinea versicolor.

Your doctor may also ask you about skin pigmentation in your immediate family. This can help them determine any genetic components.

After making a diagnosis, your doctor will help you develop an appropriate treatment plan for your symptoms.

Your options will depend on:

  • the underlying cause
  • overall health
  • age
  • area of coverage

According to DermNet New Zealand, hypopigmentation doesn’t usually require treatment if it’s related to acute inflammation. This includes burns and scarring.

In these cases, the lack of color will resolve on its own as your skin cells in the region heal. The skin cells in the affected area should be able to produce melanin again within the next couple of months.

In the meantime, your doctor can recommend other treatment measures to reduce the appearance of white patches.

Treatment options may include:

  • dermabrasion
  • chemical peels
  • laser resurfacing or therapy
  • lightening gels, such as hydroquinone (Blanche)

Condition-specific treatments

If your symptoms are tied to an underlying condition, treating the condition may help ease your symptoms.

For example, prescription anti-inflammatory creams are used to treat lichen sclerosus and pityriasis alba. Moisturizing the skin can also speed up the healing process.

Antifungal medications are used to treat tinea versicolor. These may be taken orally via pills, or applied directly to the patches with a topical cream. The AAD also recommends using a medicated cleaner once every two to four weeks to keep the fungus from coming back.

There are many options for the treatment of vitiligo. According to the AAD, restorative light treatments have a 70 percent success rate. Depigmentation, laser therapy, and surgery are also options. However, their effects may wear off over time.

Some conditions, like albinism, are life-long. If your hypopigmentation is long-lasting, talk to your doctor about what to expect in the short- and long-term. You may need to take certain precautions to prevent additional complications.

Some people with hypopigmentation are at a higher risk for skin cancer. This is especially true of albinism. In these cases, the skin is more vulnerable to damage from ultraviolet rays.

Lichen sclerosus doesn’t cause skin cancer itself. But severe scars related to the condition may become cancerous.

Social concerns should also be considered as complications of hypopigmentation. For example, many people who have vitiligo and albinism also experience social anxiety because of their skin’s appearance and how others interact with them.

Your individual outlook depends on what’s causing your hypopigmentation. Skin cell damage from wounds, burns, and infections will likely heal over time and then be able to give your skin color again. Pityriasis alba also goes away on its own.

Tinea versicolor tends to clear up once you’ve taken antifungals. While the condition might return, it’s still treatable.

Other long-term skin disorders require follow-ups with your doctor. For lichen sclerosis, the NIAMS recommends a skin checkup every six months to a year.

On the flipside, certain genetic disorders, like albinism, aren’t curable. In these cases, your doctor will work with you on symptom management and ways to reduce your risk of added complications.

Hypopigmentation: Causes, Risk Factors, Treatments, More (2024)


What is the best treatment for hypopigmentation? ›

Phototherapy is effective if you have hypopigmentation from laser treatments (laser-induced hypopigmentation). These treatments include laser hair removal, laser tattoo removal or laser skin resurfacing. It uses ultraviolet (UV) light from special lamps.

Is there any treatment for hypopigmentation? ›

The management of hypopigmented macules depends on the underlying pathophysiology. Successful repigmentation is often possible with timely diagnosis, removal of offending agents (chemicals, infectious agents), avoiding exposure to sunlight, using sunscreen, and appropriate therapeutic treatment.

What are the risks of hypopigmentation? ›

Can hypopigmentation lead to complications? Some people with hypopigmentation are at a higher risk for skin cancer. This is especially true of albinism. In these cases, the skin is more vulnerable to damage from ultraviolet rays.

How do you treat hypopigmentation naturally? ›

Home Remedies
  1. Mix five teaspoons of turmeric with enough mustard oil to form a paste, and apply twice daily to the affected area. ...
  2. If you apply powdered bakuchi seeds in coconut oil on hypopigmented patches over time, these patches can fade away.
  3. Ginger juice, and especially ginger roots, helps to treat hypopigmentation.
Oct 1, 2021

Does vitamin D help with hypopigmentation? ›

Vitamin D is an essential hormone synthesized in the skin and is responsible for skin pigmentation. Low levels of vitamin D have been observed in vitiligo patients and in patients with other autoimmune diseases.

How can I restore my skin pigment? ›

Steroid creams can be used in efforts to restore pigment to the affected areas. Phototherapy, or light therapy, may be used to try to help restore color to the skin. Surgery can be used to remove skin with your natural color or skin cells and place them where you need color.

Can dermatologist treat hypopigmentation? ›

Hypopigmentation treatment requires addressing the underlying conditions that are causing the problem. There are remedies your dermatologist can offer, like topical and UV light therapies for vitiligo. The best course of action is likely a combination of approaches.

How do you Repigment white scars? ›

White & Hypopigmented Scars

They can be challenging to treat. The focus is to get your pigment cells to produce more melanin. Lasers, topicals, microneedling & melanocyte surgical transfer are methods to achieve this. The highest success is seen in autologous surgical melanocyte transfer via micrografting.

How can I Repigment white scars at home? ›

  1. Use a Strong Sunblock. ...
  2. Gentle Exfoliation. ...
  3. Massage in a Natural Scar Treatment Oil. ...
  4. Aloe Vera. ...
  5. Green Tea. ...
  6. Liquorice Extract. ...
  7. Vitamin C. ...
  8. Apple Cider Vinegar.
Apr 1, 2021

What triggers hypopigmentation? ›

What causes hypopigmentation? Skin loses its color when the body cannot produce enough melanin. Causes include genetic factors, trauma, and inflammation.

What is the best cream for hypopigmentation? ›

5 medications found for 'facial hypopigmentation'
  • avage 0.1 % topical creamOn LabelRXReviews.
  • tazarotene 0.1 % topical foam acne productsOn LabelRXReviews.
  • tazarotene creamOn LabelRXReviews.
  • tazorac 0.05 % topical cream antipsoriaticsOn LabelRXReviews.
  • tazorac gelOn LabelRXReviews.

What disease causes hypopigmentation? ›

The most common cause of depigmentation worldwide is vitiligo. This disorder affects 1-2% of the world's population and is seen in all races. Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder in which the predominant cause is an attack by CD8+ cytotoxic T cells on melanocytes in the epidermis.

How do you Repigment Hypopigmented skin? ›

A. Laser treatment might be effective in removing hypopigmentation due to scars. A combination of psoralen and light therapy is sometimes effective in treating vitiligo patients. Psoralen should be avoided by small children and pregnant women.

What vitamins help hypopigmentation? ›

Vitamin C is an important vitamin that supports skin health by encouraging the production of collagen, and it's an antioxidant that fights damage caused by free radicals. Skin pigmentation is also affected by low levels of vitamin C, resulting in paleness.

How can I Repigment my skin naturally? ›

Most studies agree that combining vitamin B12, folic acid, and sun exposure is good for inducing repigmentation.

How do you get rid of hypopigmentation fast? ›

Laser treatment might be effective in removing hypopigmentation due to scars. A combination of psoralen and light therapy is sometimes effective in treating vitiligo patients. Psoralen should be avoided by small children and pregnant women.

How do I get my melanin back? ›

Vitamin A, C and B12 are the most needed vitamins to increase the melanin production in your hair. Add citrus fruits like oranges, grapes, pineapple, and melon to your diet. Also eat vegetables like potatoes, carrots, beans, etc. Non vegetarians can try adding red meat, chicken liver, fish, and eggs to their diet.

What deficiency causes hypopigmentation? ›

A loss of pigmentation in your skin can occur if you're deficient in folate, and it also increases your risk of folate-deficiency anemia, which leads to pale-looking skin. Since folate is found in a variety of foods, it's easy to increase your intake.

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