According to John Barrymore for HowStuffWorks, skin discoloration can be treated with prescription topical creams, oral medications and antifungal drugs depending on the cause of the discoloration. Resurfacing treatments such as chemical peels, laser surgeries and microdermabrasion can remove layers of discolored skin to reveal healthier skin underneath. Cryotherapy freezes the skin and allows new skin to form in the affected area. Surgery is also an option in some cases.
Skin discoloration is a common complaint and occurs for many different reasons, says Barrymore. For example, vitiligo manifests as patches of white, colorless skin when melanin-making cells stop working or die. Women who are pregnant, taking oral contraceptives or on hormone replacement therapy can develop a skin discoloration known as melasma or chloasma. Excessive sun exposure can lead to permanent skin damage and unsightly age spots.
Barrymore notes that some medications have been known to cause skin discoloration or increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun. Tinea versicolor is a fungal infection that develops as small, scaly discolored areas of skin and is exacerbated by warm, humid weather. Scars from injury or chronic skin eruptions like acne can leave permanent marks on the skin, according to skin care educator Angela Palmer for About.com.