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Studies look at new hyperpigmentation treatment options


From sunscreen in a stick to niacinamide, and a non-hydroquinone, retinol-free skin tone corrector, these are among the promising treatments for hyperpigmentation.

Sunscreen in a stick; a non-hydroquinone, retinol-free skin tone corrector; and niacinamide are among the promising treatments for hyperpigmentation, according to poster abstracts in a special issue of the October 2019 Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD).

Sunscreen Stick SPF70

Sunscreen in a stick might be the best form of sunscreen for patients with mild-to-severe facial hyperpigmentation because it’s easy to use and offers good overall protection, Brazilian researchers report.

They studied subjects with moderate-to-severe hyperpigmentation who applied a sunscreen stick SPF70 formulation with iron oxides and tint twice daily for 30 days. Researchers assessed patients’ skin at the start and end of treatment. They found a dermatologist’s assessment of subjects’ hyperpigmentation and patients’ quality-of-life assessments notably improved at the study’s end.  

“The combination of high sun protection factor, long wavelength UVA protection, visible light and infrared radiation protection with high coverage and high-water resistance seem to be associated with the effectiveness of the sunscreen stick,” the researchers write.

There was no funding identified for this study, according to JAAD.

A New Option to Topicals Hydroquinone and Retinol?

Researchers conducted an open-label study on using a non-hydroquinone, retinol-free, multi-action skin tone corrector, in a study funded by Skinbetter Science.

Fifty-two patients with mild to severe facial dyschromia/hyperpigmentation from photodamage applied either the multi-action skin toner alone or the skin toner in combination with a retinoid-based/alpha hydroxy acid cream twice daily for 16 weeks.

Both groups of patients had significant average percent reductions for dyschromia and in melanin at weeks 4, 8 and 12. Treatment with the non-hydroquinone, retinol-free product significantly improved the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, erythema, pore size and skin texture at 12 weeks. And in a 4-week extension study, researchers found reductions in dyschromia and melanin and improvements in the other parameters continued through week 16. Subjects experienced mild and transient adverse events but no one discontinued the study because of them, the researchers report.

The study topical addresses multiple pathways of melanin production with ingredients that reduce visible hyperpigmentation and improve overall skin appearance. The combination approach with a retinoid-based alpha hydroxy acid cream enhanced the positive outcomes, they write.

Niacinamide Reduces Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation From Inflammation

Unilever researchers looked at niacinamide’s role in reducing inflammation from barrier disruption, and assessed inflammatory lipid biomarker changes to potentially determine how those might impact hyperpigmentation development.

Researchers at a single center conducted a randomized, single blinded study in which they asked 20 Chinese females to use a method involving dry shave to mimic a sensitive skin response to washing. The women performed the provocation method with or without a niacinamide product daily for four weeks followed by a 4-week recovery.

While they found increased inflammatory cell infiltration, parakeratosis, epidermal thickness and vasodilation during the shaving phase, niacinamide significantly protected skin chromophore changes and maintained normal epidermal thickness at week 4. Niacinamide also reduced several inflammatory lipids at the end of week 1, 3 and 4.

“Niacinamide showed significant protective effects for various inflammatory end points as well as [post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation] development and recovery,” they write.

Unilever funded the study.

Hydrolyzed Psoralea Corylifolia Extract for Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Researchers looking at the efficacy of using topical hydrolyzed psoralea corylifolia extract on acne-induced post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and trichloroacetic acid (TCA) induced post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation found significant improvement on the TCA-induced but not the acne-induced post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, according to a study funded by Unigen.

Researchers at Henry Ford Health System did a prospective, single blinded, nonrandomized study on 20 people with acne-induced post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. They analyzed three acne-induced post-hyperpigmentation areas on the face and three 35% TCA-induced areas on the buttocks. Study subjects received the study topical and a vehicle cream, along with instructions on how to apply the study topical and vehicle two times daily on two facial and gluteal lesions for 28 days. The third lesion was a control, according to the study. Researchers assessed subjects’ hyperpigmentation on days 0, 28, 35, 42 and 56.

While the facial acne sites treated with the study product improved, the change did not reach statistical significance. The TCA-induced hyperpigmentation, however, significantly improved with the topical hydrolyzed Psoralea Corylifolia extract, compared to areas treated with vehicle and the control.

Given the increased improvement at the study topical treated acne-induced areas, the researchers suggest a longer follow up might have resulted in a clinically significant finding for acne-induced post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, too.

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