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Arch Dermatol. 1989 Sep;125(9):1225-30.

The effects of bergapten and sunlight on cutaneous pigmentation.

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Section of Dermatology, University of Arizona, Tucson.


The effects of bergapten-containing preparations in sunlight-induced skin pigmentation were evaluated. Oil and lotion vehicles with bergapten/UV-B sunscreen or sunscreen alone were applied to the backs of subjects twice weekly for 4 weeks and the subjects were exposed to gradually increasing doses of midday sunlight. The degree of skin darkening was assessed by clinical examination, reflectometry, and light microscopy of skin biopsy specimens. At 5 weeks, 1 week after the last sunlight exposure, the sites treated with either the bergapten/UV-B sunscreen lotion or the lotion vehicle were significantly darker than the sites treated with the sunscreen lotions without bergapten. Oil preparations produced less clearcut results, possibly because of a less potent sunscreen or because the bergapten did not leave the vehicle and absorb into the epidermis. In type I skin, the bergapten/sunscreen and the oil vehicle alone produced the same amount of tanning; both yielded more tanning than the sunscreen in oil by clinical examination. The findings were not confirmed by reflectometry or by light microscopy. Thus, we conclude that bergapten added to a UV-B sunscreen lotion preparation can increase skin pigmentation over the sunscreen alone when one is exposed to sunlight. The bergapten/UV-B sunscreen combination is a potentially useful product since one can develop a psoralen and UV-A-induced tan while being protected from UV-B-induced sunburn by the UV-B sunscreen incorporated into the formulation.

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