Printer Friendly

VITILIGO GRABS HEADLINES, BUT ALL PIGMENTATION DISORDERS NEED ATTENTION

 COSTA MESA, Calif., April 6 /PRNewswire/ -- An estimated audience of over 90 million people saw superstar Michael Jackson's interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which he refuted reports that he bleaches his skin. Instead, he claimed he suffers from a disease which causes the skin to lose its pigmentation.
 As a result of that interview, a great deal of attention has been paid to pigmentation disorders, with much misinformation getting play in the media. "The bad news," says Los Angeles dermatologist and pigmentation expert Dr. Pearl Grimes, "is that there is so much bad information out there. The good news is that it gives us the opportunity to remind people that any change in the color of their skin -- whether darker or lighter, large areas or small -- should be examined by a dermatologist to determine what is happening. There are many diseases that evidence themselves in changes of pigment -- and which need to be treated."
 But many people don't realize that treatment is available for changes in skin pigmentation -- the color of skin. The problems fall into two classes: hypopigmentation (the skin losing its color) and hyperpigmentation (the skin getting darker than normal).
 Hypopigmentation -- Loss of Pigment
 Skin can get lighter than normal through the loss of pigment -- a loss that can have a variety of causes. For example, dermatitis, rashes and fungal infections can cause skin to lighten. The complete loss of pigment -- in which the skin turns milk white in affected areas -- is called depigmentation. It can be caused by many diseases. However, a common cause of depigmentation is vitiligo. (After Michael Jackson's interview, speculation centered on vitiligo as the skin disease he referred to.) This is an unpredictable disease that affects 1 to 3 percent of the world's population.
 The cause of vitiligo is not clear. It affects people of all skin colors -- from the lightest to darkest, in all races, and both genders. Although vitiligo is regarded as a "cosmetic" disease, this is a condition which is often associated with other immunological diseases, like diabetes and thyroid disorders. In addition, because of the often dramatic alteration of appearance, people with vitiligo can suffer great emotional distress.
 "I see many people who have vitiligo," says Dr. Grimes. "The blotchy patches of non-pigmented skin can be a real problem -- no matter whether the patients have light skin or dark. Vitiligo can dramatically affect the psychological health of people. I see depression, loss of self-esteem and self-confidence. Vitiligo must be taken seriously because of the emotional problems it can cause."
 However, a variety of treatments are available. "To some extent," says Dr. Grimes, "our approach is dictated by the amount of the skin that has lost its pigment. We may use topical corticosteroids to treat some cases. And, we are very successful with repigmenting the skin with PUVA."
 PUVA stands for a combination of UVA light and psoralen-class drugs. Patients are given the psoralen, then exposed to artificial UVA light sources in the affected areas. (Patients taking this treatment are cautioned to avoid overexposure to sunlight, and are told to use sunscreens regularly. Protective eyewear must also be worn during treatment.)
 Dr. Grimes says, "Usually, the PUVA treatment is very effective in repigmenting the skin. It works in at least 70 percent of patients. It is especially effective on the face and neck -- we get repigmenting in those areas on more than 80 percent of the people we see."
 But repigmentation does not always work. For patients with extensive depigmentation (more than 50 percent of their skin), and who do not respond to repigmentation treatments, there is the option of depigmenting the skin all together.
 "Depigmenting is a drastic step. It is never considered except in the most severe circumstances, as it removes all of the pigment, most often permanently. But it is an option," says Dr. Grimes.
 Hyperpigmentation -- Dark Spots on Skin
 Hyperpigmentation is the opposite kind of difficulty. Hyperpigmentation is much more common than loss of pigmentation. Hyperpigmentation refers to any darkened area -- age spots (also called liver spots), excessive freckling or other kinds of blotches of the skin.
 Very often, hyperpigmentation problems can be caused by sun exposure, but there are other kinds of hyperpigmentation that can be the result of pregnancy, oral contraceptives, acne, or other diseases or ailments.
 "What people really need to think about when they develop dark spots -- aside from the fact that they want to get rid of them cosmetically -- is that this tells us that there may have been overexposure to the sun at some point. These dark spots may also be the result of a previous inflammatory condition, or they could even be skin cancer. If the cause of the dark spot is unclear, it should be evaluated by a dermatologist," says Dr. Grimes.
 Many people are not aware that treatment is available for hyperpigmentation. Prescription strength skin bleaching creams are effective for lightening the darkened skin areas so that they blend in with the normal skin. "But it is important to remember," says Dr. Grimes, "that there is a vast difference between the bleaching creams dermatologists prescribe for age spots and the permanent depigmentation prescription used for severe vitiligo. One must never confuse one for the other."
 Drugs to treat both hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation are manufactured by ICN Pharmaceuticals of Costa Mesa. ICN Medical Director Humberto Fernandez, M.D., says, "We know that pigmentation disorders deserve our most diligent attention because of the tremendous emotional damage they can cause. And this is true whether you are talking about the loss of pigment or the development of dark areas. We take pigmentation diseases very seriously."
 "We can make a tremendous difference," adds Dr. Grimes. "What people need to know is that there is help available...and that these problems, while called `merely' cosmetic, can have serious effects on the quality of peoples' lives, and they may indicate serious underlying diseases. The dermatologist can make all the difference. People just need to ask for help."
 -0- 4/6/93
 /CONTACT: Paul Knopick of ICN Pharmaceuticals, 714-545-0100; or Cynthia Boles of Edelman Public Relations, 213-857-9100, for ICN/


CO: ICN Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ST: California IN: MTC SU:

GK-CP -- NY030 -- 0170 04/06/93 11:53 EDT
COPYRIGHT 1993 PR Newswire Association LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 6, 1993
Words:1033
Previous Article:'AMERICAN MUSIC SHOP' TAPES PROGRAMS IN WASHINGTON, D.C. AREA; EPISODES INCLUDE TNN'S FIRST SHOW FOR KIDS
Next Article:NEW INDUSTRY BENCHMARKING RESULTS ANNOUNCED: IBM ANNOUNCES PRICE/PERFORMANCE LEADERSHIP FOR RISC SYSTEM/6000
Topics:


Related Articles
SPI PHARMACEUTICALS REINTRODUCES BENOQUIN(R) CREAM
ONCORPHARM OBTAINS RIGHTS FROM BOSTON UNIVERSITY TO A BROAD-BASED TECHNOLOGY FOR PHARMACEUTICAL PREVENTION OF SKIN CANCER AND CONTROL OF SKIN AND...
Dermal autografts effective long-term for some patients with pigment disorders.
New Phototherapy Technology Developed in Israel to Treat Psoriasis, Vitiligo, Atopic Dermatitis and Leukoderma Gets FDA Clearance.
First Skin Pigmentation Awareness Week Launches April 26 - May 3, 2004; Dermatologists Join Forces to Raise Awareness of Common Skin Pigmentation...
Skin pigmentation affects millions.
Dr Miriam: Why Jacko's covering up.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters