What Helps With Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis (IGH)?

Are there any lasers or treatments for  Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis (IGH)? 


F, Florida

Tags:woman skin aging skin freckles white spots

Hi there, 

Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis (or IGH for short) is a frustrating condition I see all the time in my office. It is most commonly found on the extremities and is best described as well-defined macules (or spots) that are depigmented or hypo- (under) pigmented. They are most visible on patients with darker skin tones, but can be seen in any skin type. See the image below that best represents the "light spots" of IGH. 

As far as treatments are concerned, the data is a bit lacking so discussing prognosis is of utmost concern with my patients, but there have been several topical therapies that have been suggested to improve the appearance: topical or injected steroids, retinoids (like tretinoin), pimecrolimus (brand name Elidel) or tacrolimus. Studies have also suggested the use of cryosurgery (freezing with liquid nitrogen), fractional carbon dioxide laser and non ablative fractional photothermolysis have also been studied with positive results.

And in the latest news on the laser front: as of April 2017 a study was released using the excimer laser to treat the condition which showed improved cosmetic outcomes. The excimer laser is a type of ultraviolet laser that is commonly used in delicate surgeries (like laser eye surgeries) and dermatology (to treat vitiligo). The study was only tested on 6 patients using a 12-week treatment protocol, and despite positive results, we must keep in mind that the study size was quite small. 

Reviewing your aesthetic concerns, but understanding the likelihood of substantial results is paramount in any discussion with your board certified dermatologist. 

Good luck!

Jeanine Downie, M.D.

Jeanine Downie has 1 Fraxel Laser before & after:

Fraxel Laser before image performed by Dr. Jeanine DownieFraxel Laser after image performed by Dr. Jeanine Downie

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