JOURNAL ARTICLE

Common pigmentation disorders

Scott Plensdorf, Joy Martinez
American Family Physician 2009 January 15, 79 (2): 109-16
19178061
Common causes of hyperpigmentation include postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, melasma, solar lentigines, ephelides (freckles), and café-au-lait macules. Although most hyperpigmented lesions are benign and the diagnosis is straightforward, it is important to exclude melanoma and its precursors and to identify skin manifestations of systemic disease. Treatment options for postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, melasma, solar lentigines, and ephelides include the use of topical agents, chemical peels, cryotherapy, or laser therapy. Caf&-au-lait macules are amenable to surgical excision or laser treatment. Disorders of hypopigmentation may also pose diagnostic challenges, although those associated with health risks are uncommon and are usually congenital (e.g., albinism, piebaldism, tuberous sclerosis, hypomelanosis of Ito). Acquired disorders may include vitiligo, pityriasis alba, tinea versicolor, and postinflammatory hypopigmentation. Treatment of patients with widespread or generalized vitiligo may include cosmetic coverage, psoralen ultraviolet A-range therapy (with or without psoralens), or narrow-band ultraviolet-B therapy; whereas those with stable, limited disease may be candidates for surgical grafting techniques. Patients with extensive disease may be candidates for depigmentation therapy. Other acquired disorders may improve or resolve with treatment of the underlying condition.

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