Secrets From a Recent Dermatology Conference

10/09/2018
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My patients often ask me what I did or what was discussed at the conferences I attend. So, I am going to share with my blog readers some of the interesting things that were discussed and debated at the meeting I was recently invited to speak at (The combined 9th Conference of the Asian Society for Pigment Cell Research and the 26th Annual Academic Sessions of the Sri Lankan College of Dermatologists).

ANTI-AGING IN SKIN OF COLOUR

Everyone wants to age gracefully so its unsurprising that many of the lectures did touch on how those with skin of colour can maintain a youthful glow. Those with skin of colour tend to get pigmentation as a sign of aging while those with Caucasian skin tend to get wrinkles.

 What’s new in anti-aging in skin of colour?

  • Broad-spectrum sunscreen is not enough when you have pigmented skin. It is vital to protect against visible light too. This can be done with iron-oxide containing sunscreens (ask you dermatologist about recommendations) and make up.
  • Where you live may impact how much pigment you have on your face. Research has demonstrated the negative impact environmental pollution has on skin pigmentation. Those in smoggy, polluted cities will notice pigmentation and skin aging at an earlier age than their countryside-loving counterparts.

VITILIGO

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Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition in which the pigment cells are attacked and killed by a specific part of the immune system which leads to patches of white skin. For more on vitiligo, click here.

What’s new in vitiligo?

  • The microbiome of the gut may influence our skin. While much more research is needed to confirm these theories, some evidence suggests that the balance of gut bacteria on the skin may play a role in vitiligo. Decreasing unnecessary antibiotics and considering pro-biotics in those with vitiligo may be reasonable. Medical therapy including prescribed creams and phototherapy however, have the most amount of unbiased scientific evidence behind it so any pro-biotic would of course be used in conjunction with medical therapy.
  • New treatments for vitiligo. JAK inhibitors and possibly IL-15 blockers are on their way to help those with vitiligo. Initial studies have proven to be exciting but phase two studies for JAK inhibitors and studies in humans for IL-15 blockers are on their way. Watch this space for new clinical trials available for patients. 

MELASMA

Melasma is brown pigmentation that occurs most commonly on the face. Click here to read more about melasma.

What’s new in melasma?

  • Recent research from Singapore suggests that those with melasma have an impaired skin barrier function. It is best to optimise barrier function with regular moisturising. So, don’t forget your moisturiser if you have melasma.
  • Chroma Dermatology will be running a trial for a new cream (made in Switzerland) for the treatment of melasma. This trial will likely commence in January 2019 so watch out for more news on this just before Christmas.

The lectures I delivered were on laser treatment for pigment problems and how to diagnose and work up a patient with vitiligo.

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In the laser lecture, I tried to impress upon those present that anyone can work a laser – at the end of the day it’s a machine with buttons on it. It’s a bit like driving a car I guess. But what is critical is making the correct diagnosis. There are so many conditions that can cause facial pigmentation and many different treatments exist for these. While creams may be helpful in some conditions, they will not work for other pigment problems. Laser, on the other hand, may help some conditions, but will make some forms of pigment irreversibly worse. So the successful treatment of pigmentation begins with getting the diagnosis right. I also talked about the latest reseach in this area.

My vitiligo lecture focused on how to work out what is vitiligo and what is not. I spoke about inherited and non-inherited conditions that cause white spots and provided advice on what tests to organise once a patient was diagnosed with vitiligo.

So, what’s next from an international conference perspective? I’m looking forward to collaborating with my European colleagues later this month and have no doubt there will be more to teach, learn, share and discover. And for the patients we care for it means world-class treatment regimens and scientifically-proven, innovative treatments.