Skin discolourations - Cosmetics Magazine, July 2010
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Skin discolourations - Cosmetics Magazine, July 2010

Ask a Dermatologist: Working with skin discolourations 

FEW PEOPLE UNDERSTAND the psychological impact skin discoloration can have – especially during the turbulent teen years. Dark spots or mottled skin tone can cause men and women to feel insecure about their looks and subsequently avoid social situations. There are even stories about people who felt so embarrassed by their skin that they refused to leave their apartments. This skin disorders can leave big psychological scars.

Thankfully, beauty experts often play a critical role in helping those suffering with skin discoloration feel better about themselves through camouflage makeup techniques. A Compassionate staff associate can demonstrate quick solutions in a very sensitive manner. This month, Cosmetics ask our resident dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett to give us some up-to-date information regarding skin discolorations.

Cosmetics: What is the medical term for skin discoloration of the skin around the face? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: The two more common causes of discoloration on the face are postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and melasma. PIH is caused by trauma to the skin which results in the stimulation of the release of pigment and subsequent darkening of the skin. Melasma is pigmentation of the skin related to hormones and sunlight.

Cosmetics: How common is this condition? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Both disorders are quite common, with melasma more common in women using oral contraception or those who are pregnant.

Cosmetics: How do clients react when they come and see you with this disorder? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Many patients with pigmentation disorders of the face are embarrassed, frustrated, socially inhibited and depressed, this disorder can have far-reaching consequences to a person’s quality of life.

Cosmetics: How does proper camouflage makeup help these clients with self-esteem? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Makeup helps to cover up the pigment and can really help a patient feel better about their appearance. Of course, I recommend treating it so there is eventually nothing to camouflage.

Cosmetics: What can be done to lessen these discolorations? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: The most important first step is to consult with a dermatologist as there are many different disorders of pigmentation and a proper diagnosis is essential. Obtaining a diagnosis might also require a skin biopsy. If the diagnosis is either post inflammatory hyperpigmentation or melasma, there are many treatment options available including prevention (sun protection), topical bleaching agents, chemical peels, light sources, and lasers. The treatment regimen devised is individualized for each patient.

Cosmetics: What advice do you have for beauty experts in how to handle these types of clients? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Sun avoidance is critical with an SPF of 30 or higher daily and a hat. Then the patient should be referred to a dermatologist for assessment and the development of a management plan. Sometimes people think seeing a dermatologist can be a little scary or expensive, but that isn’t the case at all. These doctors can give them a proper diagnosis and solution.

Cosmetics: Does sun damage affect skin discolorations? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Yes, it can make skin discoloration darker.

Cosmetics: What should everyone know about this skin discoloration?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: The most important thing to know is that there are many treatment options available.

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