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J Am Acad Dermatol. 1981 Jun;4(6):698-710.

Melasma: a clinical, light microscopic, ultrastructural, and immunofluorescence study.

Abstract

Melasma is an acquired brown hypermelanosis of the face. Although it is thought that melasma is associated with multiple etiologic factors (pregnancy, gastric, racial, and endocrine), one of the primary causes of its exacerbation appears to be exposure to sunlight. Three patterns of melasma are recognized clinically: (1) a centrofacial pattern, (2) a malar pattern, and (3) a mandibular pattern. Examination of patients with Wood's light (320--400 nm) is useful in classifying the specific type of melasma in correlation with the localization of pigment granules (melanosomes) in the epidermis and dermis. Four types of melasma are described on the basis of Wood's light examination: (1) an epidermal type, (2) a dermal type, (3) a mixed type, and (4) a fourth type, described in patients of dark complexion, in which the lesions, for lack of contrast, are not discernible on Wood's light examination, perhaps due to the increased number of melanosomes in the normal skin of black individuals. Light, histochemical, and electron microscopic studies revealed an increase in number and activity of type-specific melanocytes which appeared to be engaged in increased formation, melanization, and transfer of pigment granules (melanosomes) to the epidermis as well as to the dermis. The melanocyte seems to undergo a functional alteration brought about by a combination of multiple factors, including persistent sun exposure, hormonal factors, and genetic predisposition.

PMID:
6787100
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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