Hypochromia: Definition, Differences, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

It is a medical term that refers to a loss of color in an organ, tissue or cell.

Hypochromia can be used in dermatology to qualify hypochromic skin tasks or in hematology to designate hypochromic red blood cells .

What is hypochromia in dermatology?

In dermatology, hypochromia is a term used to describe a loss of pigmentation of integuments such as skin and hair. It can also be used to describe a loss of color in the eyes.

What is the cause of tissue hypochromia?

The hypochromia is due to the lack of melanin, a natural pigment produced by the melanocytes inside the body and responsible for the color of the skin, hair and eyes. Hypochromia can be caused by the lack of melanin production or the destruction of this pigment.

The lack of melanin can have many origins. It can be due to an infection, an autoimmune disease or a genetic disease. Among the causes of hypochromia in dermatology, we find, for example:

  • Oculocutaneous albinism: characterized by a complete lack of melanin in the skin, hair and eyes.
  • Partial albinism or piebaldism: which, unlike oculocutaneous albinism, affects only the skin and hair.
  • Vitiligo: an autoimmune disease that causes the gradual disappearance of melanocytes, cells responsible for the synthesis of melanin.
  • Hypopituitarism: characterized by the interruption of hormonal secretions from the anterior part of the pituitary gland, it can cause depigmentation of integuments and mucous membranes.
  • Tinea versicolor: a fungal infection that can lead to the start of hypopigmented tasks, also called hypochromic tasks of the skin.

How to treat hypochromia in dermatology?

The management of hypochromia depends on the diagnosis of the dermatologist. In case of fungal infection, anti-infective treatments can be implemented.

In some cases, there is currently no treatment available. However, preventive measures are recommended to limit the evolution of depigmentation. Prevention includes protecting the skin, hair and eyes against ultraviolet (UV) rays.

What is hypochromia in hematology?

In hematology, hypochromia is a medical term that can be used to refer to an abnormality in red blood cells. Red blood cells are hypochromic when they appear abnormally pale when examined by the May-Grünwald Giemsa staining method. Red blood cells are called hypochromes.

What is the cause of hypochromic red blood cells?

The paleness of red blood cells reveals a lack of hemoglobin. In fact, hemoglobin is the element within the red blood cells that gives them their famous red color. It is also the protein responsible for oxygen transport within the body, hence the importance of rapid management of the hypochromia of red blood cells.

In medicine, this deficiency of hemoglobin is called hypochromic anemia . It is characterized by an abnormally low level of hemoglobin in the blood. Hypochromic anemia can have many causes, including:

  • Iron deficiency (iron deficiency anemia), a trace element that contributes to the synthesis of hemoglobin.
  • An inherited genetic anomaly, such as thalassemia.

What are the symptoms of hypochromic anemia?

Hypochromic anemia was historically known as chlorosis or green disease because of the characteristic skin dye that sometimes occurs in patients, in addition to more general symptoms such as lack of energy, difficulty breathing, dyspepsia , headaches, capricious appetite or scarce and amenorrhea .

Hypochromic red blood cells can be observed with May-Grünwald Giemsa stain. Using different reagents, this method can differentiate different populations of blood cells in a blood sample.

This coloration allows to identify red blood cells, which are recognizable by their red color. When these blood cells appear abnormally pale, we speak of hypochromia of red blood cells.

Hypochromic anemia is often diagnosed by measuring two blood parameters:

  • Average content of corpuscular hemoglobin (MCHT): which estimates the amount of hemoglobin in red blood cells.
  • Average concentration of corpuscular hemoglobin (MCHC): corresponding to the average concentration of hemoglobin per erythrocyte.
  • TCMH less than 27 μg per cell.
  • Less than 32 g / dL.

What is the treatment of hypochromic anemia?

The treatment of hypochromic anemia depends on its origin and evolution. Depending on the case, the hemoglobin deficiency can be treated, for example, with iron supplements or blood transfusions.

In the most severe cases, a bone marrow transplant may be necessary.