Rosacea: An Introduction

Considering Melanocytes

Melanocytes are cells that are distributed among the keratinocytes.

Melanocytes contain an enzyme called tyrosinase that is able to form a pigmented substance called melanin.

Melanin is what gives the skin its depth of pigmentation or color.

The part of the melanocyte cell that forms melanin or pigment is called the melanosome.

As pigment granules form, they are transferred from the melanocytes to the keratinocytes and then are carried to the surface of the epidermis.

A major purpose of melanin is to absorb ultraviolet radiation and provide protection to newly dividing cells in the deeper layers.

Without protection, the UV radiation can cause the cell's genetic coding or DNA to mutate. This can significantly alter the manner in which the cell functions, resulting in changes associated with rosacea, aging skin or compromised immune function.

In addition, both inflammation resulting from rosacea, laser therapies as well as UV exposure can affect the functioning of the melanocytes, resulting in abnormal increase in the production of melanin or pigment.

This may be visually manifested in freckles, uneven patchy coloring or solar lentigos (often referred to as age spots).

Medical research has focused on methods of regulating melanin in order to control abnormal production and resolve the appearance of hyperpigmented lesions.

While there are a number of topical agents that inhibit the synthesis of melanin, researchers are focusing on breakthroughs that directly control the output of the tyrosinase enzyme resulting in greater control over pigmentary changes.

Topical skin care preparations that assist in increasing the rate of cellular turnover and normalization of the epidermis also can lessen the appearance of abnormally pigmented areas because newer cells appear to contain fewer pigment granules.

As the older more damaged cells are replaced by healthier cells, the pigment appears more evenly distributed.

Most recently, technological breakthroughs have focused on protecting the cell membrane and preventing damage from occurring.

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