Author: Vanessa Ngan, Staff Writer, 2004.
Drug-induced skin pigmentation is quite common and accounts for 10-20% of all cases of acquired hyperpigmentation. Pigmentation may be induced by a wide variety of drugs; the main ones implicated include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), phenytoin, antimalarials, amiodarone, antipsychotic drugs, cytotoxic drugs, tetracyclines, and heavy metals.
Several mechanisms may be involved in the drug-induced changes of pigmentation of the skin.
The clinical features of drug-induced skin pigmentation are very variable according to the drug involved. A large range of patterns and shades may be formed.
|Drug/drug group||Clinical features|
|Antipsychotics (chlorpromazine and related phenothiazines)||
|Phenytoin / anticonvulsants||
Although drug-induced skin pigmentation appears to be rather benign it can become cosmetically disfiguring. In many cases once the offending drug has been stopped, fading of the lesions occurs. However, in some cases the pigmentation may last a long time or become permanent. Because many drugs that induce skin pigmentation also cause photosensitivity reactions, sun protection is usually recommended.
More recently, laser treatment has been successful in treating amiodarone induced skin pigmentation.
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