Wasatch Dermatology Helps You Live with a Pigment Disorder
Pigmentation is another word for coloring, and the pigment melanin determines the color of your skin. Specialized cells, or melanocytes, produce the melanin responsible for your skin’s color. When these cells are damaged, the melanin production is affected, which results in skin discoloration or pigment disorders.
While most pigment disorders are not a serious health threat, it is important to have any changes in your skin coloring checked to be sure it’s not early stage skin cancer. Dr. Julie Maughan is a board certified dermatologist trained to diagnose both pigment disorders and skin cancer.
Managing pigment disorders at Wasatch Dermatology
Dr. Maughan and her staff manage and treat a variety of pigment disorders:
Melasma is a discoloration of the skin that looks like dark, irregularly shaped patches on the skin. Common areas for melasma to develop are the cheeks, lips, nose, neck, shoulders and upper arms. Exposure to the sun is one of the triggers for melasma, so areas with higher sun exposure are more prone to developing these dark patches. Hormone fluctuations, pregnancy, some medications and stress can also trigger melasma.
- Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation
Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation is a darkening of the skin after some type of trauma. You may see this discoloration after acne, along a surgical scar, or after a skin infection or a flare-up of psoriasis. Some medications can also cause this type of pigment disorder. Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation is often slow to resolve, requiring a long-term treatment plan developed by the staff at Wasatch Dermatology.
- Solar lentigines
Solar lentigines are often called age spots. They develop during middle age and are caused by sun exposure. Solar lentigines are larger than freckles and don’t typically fade on their own. Common areas for them to develop are those with greater sun exposure, such as the face, back of the hands, neck, arms and shoulders. Solar lentigines are harmless, but they should be watched and regularly checked by Dr. Maughan to assess them for changes that could indicate early skin cancer.
- Ephelides (freckles)
Freckles are small, flat brown spots that appear on the skin after exposure to the sun. Freckles are genetic, but people with fair skin and red hair often develop more freckles than those with darker skin. Melanin, the pigment responsible for the coloring of your skin, is also responsible for freckles. When melanin accumulates in a small, localized area in your skin, a freckle develops.
- Café au lait spots
Café au lait spots are flat, dark birthmarks with irregular edges. They get their name from their light brown color, referring to ‘coffee with milk’ in French. They are also referred to as giraffe spots or coast of Maine spots. These spots are present at birth, and can increase in size, darkness and number as a person ages. Café au lait birthmarks are relatively common and they are not serious; however, if there are a large number of them on the body, it be may associated with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder of the nervous system.
Treating pigment disorders in Ogden, Utah
Living with a skin pigmentation disorder is often a life-long situation, and Dr. Maughan is here to help. The care given at Wasatch Dermatology is very personalized to each patient and his or her specific needs. Pigment disorders often require a customized approach, which may need to be updated and refined over time. Dr. Maughan can provide a complete skin assessment and an individualized plan of care to treat and manage your skin health — for life.
- Topical skin-lightening medications
- Aggressive sun protection
The team at Wasatch Dermatology is committed to being your long-term partner in skin health. To schedule an appointment, call 801-475-5210.