Pigmentation is the coloring of a person's skin. When a person is healthy, her skin will appear normal in color. In the case of illness or injury, the person's skin may change color, becoming darker. This is known as hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation can affect children, stemming from a large number of causes. Although the disorder is largely harmless, it is worth knowing the risks that the disorder poses and where it comes from.
Hyperpigmentation in children is caused by an excess production of melanin, the brown pigment present in the skin. Hyperpigmentation is stimulated chemically by the effects of the sun's rays, by hormones or by medication, increasing melanin production and resulting in darker skin. Hyperpigmentation can be widespread or localized such as in the face or hands. With the proper treatment, melanin-induced pigmentation variance can be reduced and effectively controlled to reflect the skin's natural tones.
Exposure to sunlight is a main cause of hyperpigmentation in children. Heavy exposure to sunlight will darken already hyperpigmented areas of children. Use a strong sunscreen of 15 SPF or higher and limit the exposure of the child in the sun. This is an easy are to avoid exposing the child to risk. Be aware of hours spent in the sun.
Hyperpigmentation can also be caused by various drugs, including some antibiotics, antiarrhythmics and antimalarial medication. With the thousands of drugs on the market, speak to your pediatrician to determine what drugs may be putting your child at risk. See if there is an alternate option. If not, you may continue use of the drug with your child if the benefits outweigh the risks.
Addison's disease is a rare endocrine disorder in which the adrenal glands produce insufficient steroid hormones. This disease can also cause hyperpigmentation in children. Addison's disease has many more serious symptoms that may come before or after the change in skin tone. Ask a doctor immediately about any sudden changes in skin pigmentation.
Melasma can cause hyperpigmentation in children. This condition is characterized by tan or brown patches, most commonly on the face. Though the condition is most known for affecting pregnant women, it can affect anyone. Genetic predisposition is also a major factor in determining whether someone will develop melasma. Check any history in the family with melasma to help determine if it may pose a factor for your child.