Skin Discoloration Due To Eczema: Treatment, Types, And More


Eczema is a common skin condition that causes itchy, dry, irritated lesions. Scratching the lesions can cause skin changes, including hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation.

Experts are not sure exactly what causes eczema. However, research suggests that genetics and environmental factors play a role.

Eczema causes lesions on the skin that itch and dry. Many people feel the urge to scratch the affected skin, which can make the irritation worse. Eczema can spread to other parts of the body, change color and become infected.

The color change can be hypopigmentation, which is a loss of color, or hyperpigmentation, which is a darkening of the color.

Read on to learn more about the link between eczema and skin discoloration, treatment options, and more.

Eczema lesions, also called atopic dermatitis, can be itchy and uncomfortable. Itching eczema is a common behavior, but it can promote changes in the appearance and texture of the skin.

Eczema can cause two types of pigmentary changes in the skin: hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation. Hypopigmentation is a loss of pigment or color, usually showing as patches lighter than a person’s skin tone. Hyperpigmentation refers to patches of skin that become darker than the skin around them.

Both hypo and hyperpigmentation are more visible on darker skin tones. However, they can appear on any skin tone.

People with eczema may find the change in the appearance of the skin painful and it can affect their quality of life. Even after treatment for eczema, the skin may not return to its previous color.

During an eczema flare, the body releases cytokines. In an effort to protect the body, they cause inflammation.

Cytokines trigger the release of melanocytes. These cells live in the skin and hair follicles and produce melanin, a pigment in the skin.

This reaction results in an increase in the production of pigment.

The darker a person’s skin, the more melanin it contains. As a result, people with darker skin release more pigment when the reaction occurs.

Eczema is different depending on a person’s skin type.

On fair skin, eczema usually causes inflamed pink or red patches that are dry and itchy. These lesions are more difficult to detect on dark skin.

When people with mild skin eczema lesions, hyper and hypopigmentation can occur. The pigmentation of the skin can progress gradually and its subtle changes make it difficult to detect.

People with dark skin are more likely to have hyper and hypopigmentation. They are also more likely to have follicular prominence, which is when the eczema presents as small, itchy bumps called papules. These mainly appear on the forearms and torso.


Darker patches of skin, or hyperpigmentation, occur as a result of inflammation. This prompts the melanocytes to increase the synthesis of melanin, which is the process of making pigments in the skin.

The increase in synthesis promotes the transfer of pigment to the epidermis, the top layer of the skin. If a person scratches or rubs their skin, it releases melanin.

Types of hyperpigmentation include:

Post-inflammatory pigmentation

Once an eczema flare has resolved, it can leave a darker spot on the skin. It is a post-inflammatory pigmentation.

Although it is temporary, it can persist for months, but it tends to last longer on dark skin tones.

Sunlight stimulates post-inflammatory pigmentation, so people should cover affected areas and use sun protection.


If a person rubs and scratches the affected areas of the skin, it can thicken. This can leave thick, leathery lesions with visible scratches, called lichenification.

These areas of hyperpigmentation can appear as gray on dark skin and dark pink on fair skin.


Lighter skin patches, or hypopigmentation, can occur when a flare-up of eczema is resolving itself.

Hypopigmentation in eczema often presents as pityriasis alba, which is a low-grade eczema marked by pale, scaly patches. It typically causes between one and 20 rounded or oval patches on the neck, face, arms, and shoulders.

Tinea alba is more common on dark skin tones and occurs frequently after a person’s skin has been exposed to the sun. While dander and dryness may be more noticeable during the winter months, actual hypopigmentation is more common during the summer.

The lesions usually go away in 1 year, but they can take 2 to 3 years to go away.

There is no specific treatment for pigmentary changes in the skin. However, eczema is treatable in people of all skin types.

Hyper and hypopigmentation usually subside and go away on their own. Using a moisturizing cream or ointment can help with dryness, and sun protection will prevent hyper and hypopigmentation patches from getting worse.

If a person’s eczema or pigmentation does not resolve on their own, they may contact a doctor or dermatologist to make a treatment plan. This can include oral and topical steroids, non-steroidal creams, etc.

Hyper and hypopigmentation caused by eczema usually goes away on their own.

People who have difficulty managing their eczema may contact a doctor receive a diagnosis and establish a treatment plan. Additionally, people concerned about hyper and hypopigmentation plaques may also wish to see a doctor.

Eczema causes dry, itchy, and inflamed lesions. When irritated, the skin can develop patches of hyper or hypopigmentation.

There is no specific treatment for hypo or hyperpigmentation associated with eczema, and the conditions usually go away on their own over time. A person can see a dermatologist to treat their eczema.

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