Hypopigmented macules of photodamaged skin and their treatment with topical tretinoin

Acta Derm Venereol. 1999 Jul;79(4):305-10. doi: 10.1080/000155599750010724.


Hypopigmented macules are frequently observed in the photodamaged skin of elderly people. We undertook to study and treat 2 types of hypomelanosis of photoaged skin. These lesions were: 1) idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis; and 2) macular hypomelanosis. Comparative studies included: 1) high-resolution photography using parallel polarized light, ultra-violet (UVA) and epiluminescence; 2) Silflo replicas for microtopography; and 3) suction device (Cutometer) for elasticity. Macular hypomelanosis was distinguishable from idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis because the macules were less white and less well demarcated. Glyphic markings were essentially absent in macular hypomelanosis, but variably effaced in idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis. Distensibility of the macules was characteristically low in proportion to the loss of glyphic markings. The chief histologic finding was the absence of melanin in basal keratinocytes. Macular hypomelanosis and idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis are probably related disorders along a spectrum of depigmentation. Treatment with tretinoin for 4 months restored the elasticity, the glyphic markings, with a partial restoration of pigmentation.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Elasticity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypopigmentation / drug therapy*
  • Hypopigmentation / epidemiology
  • Hypopigmentation / pathology
  • Keratolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Philadelphia / epidemiology
  • Photography
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin / physiopathology
  • Skin Aging*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tretinoin / therapeutic use*


  • Keratolytic Agents
  • Tretinoin