The normal color of the skin is obtained by the presence of specific pigment called melanin which is located in melanocytes, specific skin cells. The amount of melanin determines the basic color of the skin.
Skin discoloration refers to any change of color that affects skin. It is usually partial affecting certain parts of the skin. But in certain medical conditions even the entire skin may change color. There are numerous causes of skin discoloration.
Causes of Skin Discoloration
Skin discoloration is typical for skin diseases. Apart from that it commonly occurs after injury and may be caused by diseases of other organs.
Skin diseases are always accompanied by specific skin changes and skin discoloration. The very appearance of skin discoloration may help in setting of the diagnosis.
Injuries of the skin are definitely the most frequent cause of skin discoloration. Initially the injured part is red due to increased blood supply. The redness eventually withdraws but in case of bruises the skin discoloration turns from red to purple and as the injury heals the affected area becomes green and yellow and it finally restores its normal color. Redness of the skin is also typical for skin infections and allergic reactions. Skin can even become red during physical activity and sport and this is considered as normal reaction of the skin.
Furthermore, skin discoloration can be be induced by illnesses of other organs. Jaundice, for example, is a condition in which the entire skin as well as visible mucous membranes become yellow. Skin discoloration is in jaundice caused by improper functioning of the liver. It affects people suffering from many liver diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, etc.
Cyanosis is blue and bluish discoloration of the skin. The skin becomes cyanotic because the blood does not contain sufficient amount of oxygen which consequently leads to insufficient amount of oxygen in the skin. Cyanosis can be peripheral and central and occurs in a variety of medical conditions. Some of them include vascular diseases, heart conditions, asthma and emphysema.
Pallor of the skin is another form of skin discoloration. Extremely white skin can point to insufficient blood supply of the affected area. If it affects the entire body it can be caused by anemia. Partial pallor can occur in frostbites, shock, burns, allergies and ulcers.
Carotenodermia is a medical condition which features with orange color of the skin. It occurs due to increased accumulation of carotenoids in the skin. Carotenodermia can be found in people who eat too much food rich in carotenoids. On the other hand, it may also point to improper liver or kidney function.