Researchers use black light to diagnose skin problem in pregnancy

Melasma, known as the mask of pregnancy, is a common skin condition in women that often appears during pregnancy due to hormonal changes.
By Amy Wallace   |   July 17, 2017 at 12:51 PM
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July 17 (UPI) -- Researchers at Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine report that a black light was more effective than the naked eye for diagnosing melasma in pregnancy.

Melasma, known as the mask of pregnancy, is a common skin condition in women that often appears during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. It primarily affects the cheeks, forehead, chin and bridge of the nose, however, patches can appear on other parts of the body that are exposed to the sun like the arms and neck.

"Early detection is critical in treating this disease before it worsens," Dr. Neelam Vashi, director of the Center for Ethnic Skin at BMC and Boston University, said in a press release. "Without the use of a black light, the extent of the disease could go unnoticed and worsen over time with ultraviolet ray exposure or laser therapy. Treatment for melasma needs to be maintained, otherwise there is risk of the condition returning."

The study was published in the August edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Researchers used a black light, or Wood's light, to detect changes in color in the skin, which makes pigment disorders easier to detect as they appear to shine under the light.

"In some cases, melasma can be very difficult to detect with the naked eye," Vashi said. "Using a black light allows us to assess the extent of the disease and counsel patients on sun protection measures and treatment options.

"Early detection is critical in treating this disease before it worsens. Without the use of a black light, the extent of the disease could go unnoticed and worsen over time with ultraviolet ray exposure or laser therapy. Treatment for melasma needs to be maintained, otherwise there is risk of the condition returning."

Melasma is often treated with topical creams, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and sun protection.

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