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Skin Care and Diseases

Melanin=Pigmentation

05/20/2005

Question:

I am 36 years old female and have one child. Three months after the delivery of my child, the pigmentation on my face was lighter and I was happy thinking that it`s gonna fade away forever, but it didn`t. Rather it`s getting darker, thicker and bigger. I have been having hyperpigmentation on my cheeks for more than 6 years. I have been using all kinds of medication to remove this but none of them work. I am wondering if there is any new development for the treatment of pigmentation. Is there any way to reduce/decrease melanin in our body? Are there someone who is finding ways to treat for pigmentation? If there is, I would like to be notified about it and if they need anyone to test the product, I would volunteer willingly. Please help. I`m desperate.

Answer:

The condition that you have described is known as melasma; or if it is associated with pregnancy it would be cloasma.  In any event, there is an overproduction of pigment granules by the pigment-forming cells of your skin in response to light and endocrine stimulation. 

The most accepted treatment for this is the use of hydroquinone with or without additional medications such as retinoids and topical medium strength steroids.  Sunscreens should be worn 365 days out of the year and the sunscreen selected should block both UVA and UFB, and should have an SPF value of at least 30.  The use of hydroquinone and sunscreens frequently results in bleaching, or at least significant lightening of the areas of hyperpigmentation.

If the bleaching sequences have not been satisfactory I urge you to obtain a waterproofed cosmetic that is matched to your natural skin color.  With just minimum attention to your face each day you will appear normal.  I have had a great deal of success in having special colors blended.  Dermablend cosmetics is one that we have had the most success with, although there are other very fine cosmetics that may be unique to your area. In any event, consult with someone who has great experience blending the colors so that there would be a natural tone to your skin. 

There are a number of centers where pigment research is underway.  In the Cincinnati area, Dr. James J. Nordlund is probably the leading expert in clinical pigmentary problems.  You might contact him through his e-mail at jjnordlund@fuse.net to see if he has anything helpful for you.

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati