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DRS precision: Diffuse reflectance spectrometry beneficial for intermediate skin types


A more precise skin typing system using diffuse reflectance spectrometry is beneficial to those with intermediate skin types.

Key Points


Benjamin Moncada, M.D., University of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and his fellow researchers conducted a study in which DRS was used to objectively measure skin pigmentation. The study included 35 Hispanic individuals and six patients with vitiligo (who served as the control) in which the constitutive skin color of the upper volar arm was determined, and a melanin index for each participant was developed.

"A more accurate definition of patient skin types is important in many aspects of dermatologic therapy. When treating patients with laser, you want to start with a certain dose of energy regarding the skin type, and the matching of the right energy to the right skin type is critical in achieving positive cosmetic outcomes and keeping unwanted side effects at a minimum, such as burns and hyperpigmentations. The same is true for UV-based therapies such as PUVA, where administering the correct light and psoralen dose to the patient in respect to his or her skin type is crucial in avoiding adverse events," Dr. Moncada explains.

Defining skin types

According to Dr. Moncada, the more precise definition of skin types can also assist the physician in more accurately advising the patient in regard to the proper photoprotection that he or she may need. This may be particularly true for mixed skin types, as these intermediate skin types may sometimes be false-advised because they fall into an inaccurate Fitzpatrick phototype category.

"Dermatologists who commonly see mixed populations and different ethnicities should pay close attention to the phototypes of their patients and, in particular, the intermediate phototypes, as a mis-classification of a patient's skin type could lead to unwanted side effects of a given therapy, whether it be a laser therapy or a UV therapy used in the treatment of their dermatosis. Though DRS is relatively new, I believe that it should be adopted by dermatologists worldwide in order to better serve our patients," Dr. Moncada says.

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