Pigmentary disorders are a general term which includes hyperpigmentary disorders (darkening of the skin) and hypopigmentary disorders (decrease in the normal skin colour). The most common disorder being melasma (hyperpigmentary) and vitiligo (hypopigmentary).
What is Melasma?
Melasma, more commonly known as the pregnancy mark, is thought to affect 5 - 6 million women in the USA, 50 to 75% of pregnant women in the USA and 80% of pregnant women in Mexico. It can occur after exposure to the sun or hormonal changes (pregnancy, oral contraception, etc), causing an increase of melanin in the skin (the substance that gives skin its colour). It is considered a chronic disease that can sometimes appear before pregnancy, disappear a few months after giving birth, reappear in subsequent pregnancies, or last for several years. Pigmentation usually affects the face and mainly cheeks, forehead and upper lips.
What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is an acquired skin disease characterised by circumscribed depigmented lesions. It may appear anytime from shortly after birth to old age and affects 1.3% of the population. The onset can be precipitated by specific life events (physical injury, sunburn, emotional injury, illness, pregnancy). Both sexes are affected equally. Lesions are uniformly milky-white, round, oval and linear in shape, vary in size and appear anywhere on the body, but mainly in areas of repeated trauma, pressure or friction (elbows, knees, and toes). Genetic, immunologic, environmental and stress factors are thought to be involved.
How to treat Melasma?
The disease is generally treated with a combination of active ingredients for topical application; the most efficient being a triple combination drug, which must be used everyday, while applying a broad spectrum sunscreen several times a day.
How to treat Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a difficult disease to treat. When it is of limited extent, topical treatments can be used, but when a large surface of the body is affected, ultraviolet light (UV) therapy is recommended, alone or in combination with topcail treatments.