Pigmentation conditions

White, brown or black: The degree of pigmentation and the structure of the blood vessels underneath the skin decisively decide the skin colour of a person. The quantity of melanin plays a highly significant role. Although its individual portion contained in skin is genetically determined, sun exposure may also contribute to the formation of melanin within a certain bandwidth.

There are two different types of melanin: Eumelanin is a brown to black pigment. The amount of eumalin in skin determines a person’s skin type and with that skin colour. Pheomelanin is red to yellow and creates a reddish to yellowish undertone depending on quantity but especially in lighter skinned people. Red hair is a clear indicator of a high pheomelanin content and is therefore often associated with very light or reddish skin. Albinism is an inherited lack of pigments. The degree of pigmentation may change over the course of a person’s life: Amount of pigmentation may become less due to medications or during pregnancy, for example.

If a reduction of pigment is desired, confocal laser scanning microscopy can be used following other therapies (e.g. intense pulsed light) to detect changes in the melanin content of skin. The reflectance due to melanin decreases following successful treatments and assessment with a VivaScope device therefore constitutes a safe and easy to use monitoring tool.

[1] Yamashita T, Negishi K, Hariya T, Kunizawa N, Ikuta K, Yanai M, Wakamatsu S: “Intense Pulsed Light Therapy for Superficial Pigmented Lesions Evaluated by Reflectance-Mode Confocal Microscopy and Optical Coherence Tomography.” J Invest Dermatol. 2006; 126(10): 2281-6.
[2] Taylor S, Westerhof W, Im S, Lim J: “Noninvasive Techniques for the Evaluation of Skin Color.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006; 54(5 Suppl 2): 282-90.
[3] Middelkamp-Hup MA, Park H-Y, Lee J, Gilchrest BA, González S: “Detection of UV-Induced Pigmentary and Epidermal Changes Over Time Using In Vivo Reflectance Confocal Microscopy.” J Invest Dermatol. 2006; 126(2): 402-7.

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