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Dermatologists Shed Light on Common Pigmentation Problems and Solutions in Skin of Color
Date:7/29/2009

and mild hydrocortisone can be effective in fading skin discoloration. Deeper dark areas require an in-office surgical procedure, such as dermabrasion, chemical peels, or microdermabrasion with an infusion of hydroquinone solution. In patients with lighter skin, intense pulsed light (IPL) or one of the pigmented lasers could be considered.

"Patients with any type of hyperpigmentation problem need to use a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) regularly - the higher SPF the better," said Dr. Breadon. "There is no cure for this condition, so even when patients experience clearing, it can come back. For most patients, I usually recommend a three-month topical regimen then long-term maintenance with a sunscreen."

Melasma

Often referred to as the "mask of pregnancy," melasma is a skin condition marked by brown patches on areas such as the face, neck and arms that most often affects dark-skinned people and women in particular. Many dermatologists have long believed that there may be a hormonal component to melasma, and a recently published study found that there were an increased number of estrogen receptors in areas where patients developed melasma.

For this reason, Dr. Breadon advises patients with melasma to consider stopping oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy due to the large amount of estrogens in these medications. Regular sunscreen use is vital to protect the skin from further hyperpigmentation.

With melasma, the skin can be affected in three different ways: on the epidermis (superficial layer), in the dermis (deep layer) or a mixture of both the epidermis and dermis. Dermatologists use a light device known as the Woods lamp, which shows skin diseases as specific colors, to determine how deep melasma has penetrated the skin.

For superficial melasma, the triple cream combination of hydroquinone, retinoic acid and mild hydrocort
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
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