Skin pigmentation disorder


Pigment disorders of the skin (medical pigment nevi) are benign changes that clearly differ in color from the surrounding skin and can be demarcated.

Almost every person has a pigmentation disorder in their skin at some point on their body, which, however, has no disease value.

Colloquially, terms such as "Mole"Or"birthmark“Used to describe such pigment disorders.

There are different types of pigment disorders, each of which can be divided into different subgroups.


Melanocytes are cells in the skin and are responsible for producing melanin. Excessive melanin production leads to overpigmentation of the skin.

In the skin there are certain cells that are responsible for how dark our skin is. These cells become Melanocytes called and produce Melanin.

The melanin formed absorbs UV radiation and protects other cells from this.

The human skin also gets the melanin characteristic color.

Depending on the type of pigment disorder, different causes can be the reason for a pigment disorder of the skin. In most cases, however, the melanocytes and the melanin formed play an important role in explaining the phenomena.

Another important group of cells to explain a number of pigment disorders are the so-called Nevus cells. These are very similar to melanocytes and share with them the ability that they, like melanocytes, can produce melanin.


Generally one can use a Hyperpigmentation (Overpigmentation) from one Hypopigmentation (Underpigmentation) differ. Depending on the situation, there are too many or too few melanocytes or melanin in the skin.

At the Albinism For example, a form of hypopigmentation, there is hardly any melanin in the skin, which is why the affected people have extremely light skin, hair and eyes.

In order to classify the different pigment disorders and to divide them into certain groups, one uses the with the different layers of skin.

The skin consists roughly of three layers (from the outside to the inside):

  • Epidermis,
  • Dermis,
  • Subcutis.

In addition, the pigment disorders are classified according to whether they are from Melanocytes or from Nevus cells go out. Both cell types are capable of producing melanin and are responsible for skin pigmentation.

In the group of pigment disorders originating from melanocytes, one can therefore still distinguish whether these are in the epidermis or in the Dermis occur.

The pigment disorders of the nevus cell group are not further subdivided.

In the fourth group, pigment disorders are recorded, which are from atypical melanocytes or Nevus cells go out.

Pigment disorders like those colloquially called Moles, Freckles, or Café-au-lait spots These changes can be classified in the group of melanocytes that occur in the epidermis.

Other forms of pigment disorder are usually not known to the population, which is why changes that should actually be classified into other groups are incorrectly referred to as liver spots or the like.

root cause

As different as the appearance of the various pigment disorders of the skin is, the causes for them are just as different.
In many cases it is not clear why a particular pigment disorder occurs.

Causes of pigment disorders can also cause pigment disorders, which irreversible whereas there are certain causes for change, which reversible Cause pigment disorders.

Irreversible pigment disorders can, for example, in the Use of certain medications occur, but disappear when the drug is discontinued.

Other causes can be:

genetic factors,

  • hormonal changes,
  • Irritation of the skin due to pressure or radiation,
  • certain autoimmune processes,
  • inflammatory skin diseases.

Presumably there are significantly more possible causes for the occurrence of the pigment disorders, but these have not yet been fully clarified.


The diagnosis of pigment disorders of the skin can be made by a doctor.
Specialists in this area are dermatologists or the treating general practitioner.

When diagnosing pigment disorders of the skin, it is important to distinguish it from diseases that have a disease value and require therapy.

Here are special Melanoma to be mentioned, a form of cancer that originates in the melanocytes of the skin and should definitely be treated.

In order to differentiate a harmless pigment disorder from a melanoma, a so-called Dermatoscope used. This allows the areas to be examined carefully and, under certain circumstances, a diagnosis can be made.

In order to differentiate a pigment disorder from a melanoma, various points are taken into account:

  • symmetry - the more asymmetrical the change, the more noticeable it is.
  • diameter - From a diameter of more than 0.5 cm a change is noticeable.
  • colour - the more different colors there are, the more noticeable the change.
  • Limitation - the more unclear the limitation of the change, the more noticeable it is.
  • Grandeur - raised (lifted off the skin) Pigment disorders are noticeable.

With most pigment disorders, these points are inconspicuous or are only present in isolated cases.
If individual spots are present, there is not necessarily cause for concern, as some pigment changes can be associated with a certain suspicion of a melanoma.

Pigment changes should however always observed be so a sudden change the position is registered and a doctor can be consulted for clarification.


Since pigment changes on the skin have no disease value, no therapy for the removal of the skin areas has to be carried out.

However, should the examination of the skin show that a certain amount Suspected melanoma the pigment disorder is usually removed.
This is done completely painlessly under a local anesthetic.

Should be a so-called Depigmentation are present, i.e. too few of the melanin-producing melanocytes are available, it is advisable to take one daily UV protection to apply.
Since melanin normally protects the deeper structures from UV radiation, these precautionary measures are important for those affected.

Although pigment disorders are usually harmless and therapy is not necessary, many people feel the skin changes from cosmetic reasons as uncomfortable.

In such cases you can cosmetics and Creams such as Self-tanner To remedy the situation.

By a Irradiation of the affected skin the attending physician can also make the pigment disorders appear a little darker if there is depigmentation.

There is also the possibility of a so-called Laser therapy to undergo.
The high-energy laser destroys the pigments in the skin and can then be broken down by the body's own cells.

This is the most effective therapy for pigmentation disorders, but should be carefully considered with the attending physician due to the side effects.


The development of pigment disorders of the skin varies considerably depending on the appearance.

In many cases one applies Skin exposure to UV radiation as causes of the change to be considered, which is why exposure to sunlight in affected persons is always associated with a UV blockers should be done.

In other cases it is a genetic component the cause of the change, which is why a change in the symptoms cannot be observed (Example: albinism).

Freckles are strongly dependent on the light intensity, which is why these are sometimes more and sometimes less visible depending on the exposure.