Melanosis L81.4

Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 25.06.2023

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Hyperpigmentation; Melanosis

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Neither in the dermatological nor in the non-dermatological linguistic usage uniformly used terminology (see below note). In general dermatological usage, this is understood to mean congenital or acquired, localized or disseminated, solitary or generalized or also universal, pathological dark discoloration of the skin and/or mucous membrane ( hyperpigmentation in the narrower sense), caused by increased deposits of melanin in the epidermis/mucosa and/or dermis/tunica propria.

S.a. Dyschromia.

Hypomelanosis (better known as hypopigmentation) is a lack of pigment, which can be caused by a lack of melanin or a lack of melanocytes.

"Hypermelanosis" (better: hyperpigmentation) is therefore caused either by numerical increase of melanocytes (example: lentigo simplex) or by increase and increased transfer of melanin (example: ephelides) or by the combinations. Hyperpigmentations are also caused by accumulation of melanin in the dermis (blue colour). Melanin can occur freely in the dermis or bound in melanophages (e.g. through pigment incontinence) or in dermal melanocytes (e.g. in the blue nevus).

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Basically, one can distinguish between localized and generalized melanoses as well as between melanoses of the mucous membranes and the skin.:

Melanosis of the mucosa (melanocytic pigmentation).

Melanosis of the skin ( hyperpigmentation in the narrower sense).

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The term melanosis is also used in other fields, again in different interpretations (e.g. melanosis of the colon; melanosis of the conjunctiva).

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  1. Giehl K et al (2010) Genetically caused pigmentation disorders. Dermatologist 61: 567-577


Please ask your physician for a reliable diagnosis. This website is only meant as a reference.


Last updated on: 25.06.2023