Pigmentation Disorders Treatment

Pigmentation Disorders Treatment: Advances and New Therapies


Skin pigmentation disorders can cause psychological distress and lower self-esteem in patients. However, significant progress has been made in developing effective treatments options.

Causes of Pigmentation Disorders

Pigmentation disorders arise due to abnormalities in melanin production within melanocytes in the skin. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its color and protects it from sun damage. The three main causes of uneven or abnormal pigmentation include genetics, sun exposure, and hormonal changes:

Genetics: Conditions like vitiligo and albinism occur due to genetic mutations that affect melanin production and distribution. Around 50% of vitiligo cases run in families.

Sun exposure: Excessive unprotected sun exposure can cause hyperpigmentation or darkening of skin over time through a process called photoaging. It can worsen pre-existing freckles, moles or birthmarks.

Hormonal changes: Changes in hormone levels during puberty, pregnancy or menopause can stimulate melanin production in certain areas of the skin, resulting in conditions like melasma or age spots.

Treating Pigmentation Disorders with Lasers and Light Therapies

Laser and light therapies have revolutionized Pigmentation Disorders Treatment of hyperpigmentation disorders in recent years. These treatments work by targeting the melanin in darkened skin areas using specific wavelengths of light. Some of the commonly used laser and light therapy options include:

Q-Switched Lasers: Q-switched lasers like the Q-switched Nd:YAG laser emit extremely short light pulses that selectively destroy melanin without harming surrounding skin. They are highly effective for conditions like melasma, freckles and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Picosecond Lasers: Newer picosecond lasers like the picosecond 755 nm alexandrite laser provide faster treatments with lesser discomfort compared to traditional Q-switched lasers. They achieve good clearance of pigmented lesions.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL): IPL delivers pulses of broad spectrum light to target multiple chromophores including melanin. It is commonly used for sun damage, age spots and melasma. The newer technologies provide selective thermal damage without adverse effects.

Fractional Lasers: Fractional laser resurfacing employs a special lens that delivers laser beams to only fractions of skin areas, allowing for faster healing. The Fraxel dual laser is effective for refractory melasma cases.

Blue/Red Light Therapy: Low-level blue or red light treatments increase collagen production while reducing melanin formation. They provide mild improvements and are well-tolerated options.

Localized Chemophoresis for Pigmented Lesions

For treating small to medium sized pigmented lesions like freckles, age spots or melasma patches, localized chemophoresis has become a popular minimally invasive approach. It involves the topical application of a corticosteroid or bleaching agent along with a localized needle roller therapy. A French microneedle roller containing hundreds of fine needles is gently rolled over the darkened area 3-4 times.

This creates microconduits in the top layers of skin through which the agents can penetrate deep into the dermis layer where melanocytes are located. The combination of needle therapy and agents leads to inhibition or destruction of melanocytes, resulting in clearing of pigmented lesions within 4-6 weeks. Advantages include fewer side effects compared to lasers, lower cost and ability to treat larger areas in fewer sessions.

Targeting Tyrosinase for Vitiligo Treatment

Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition where melanocytes in patches of skin are destroyed, resulting in the loss of pigmentation or leukoderma patches. While topical corticosteroids and phototherapy provide some repigmentation in localized vitiligo cases, new oral medications are revolutionizing treatment of generalized or refractory vitiligo.

These medications target tyrosinase – the enzyme involved in melanin synthesis. Inhibiting tyrosinase helps repigment vitiligo patches by restoring melanin production. Ruxolitinib cream and topical 4-methoxypsoralen are emerging as promising new options. Another oral medication called focused ultrasound with MB002 injection shows high rates of repigmentation and regeneration of melanocytes even after a single treatment session for resistant vitiligo cases affecting over 40% of skin surface area.

Precautions and Lifestyle Management

While advanced treatment options exist now, prevention and sun protection form the mainstay. Sunscreens, wide-brimmed hats, long sleeves when outdoors and limiting sun exposure during peak hours are essential lifestyle measures. Discontinue topical and oral medications under dermatologist guidance once the desired improvement is achieved to avoid overtreatment and possible side effects. Sticking to a healthy stress-free routine and adequate hydration also help minimize recurrence of pigmentation problems. Regular reviews by dermatologists allows for early detection of new lesions.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it