Hypopigmentation is the loss of skin color caused by the depletion of melanocyte cells, or melanin. A decrease in the amino acid tyrosine, which is used by melanocytes to make melanin, can also cause hypopigmentation. Disease, injury, burns, and even small traumas like pimples, blisters, infections, and scrapes can lead to this kind of skin discoloration.

Treatment options are limited. There are creams and topical corticosteroids, but doctors don’t often recommend these. Skin grafting is a common treatment but can be extensive depending on the size of the affected area. Generally, medical lasers are the most popular choice for those looking to get rid of discolored skin.

Ironically, lasers can also cause hypopigmentation. Laser tattoo removal treatments can sometimes damage the skin so that pigment is removed. Older medical lasers weren’t able to target the dermis layer, where the ink lies, without damaging the epidermis. This would often leave those with a tan or naturally dark skin with extreme discoloration. Technology has advanced, so this is no longer the case—as long as clinics use new lasers rather than the antiquated ones.