Assessment of the optical properties of the skin is very helpful for the quantification of the content and spatial distribution of the various biological components in skin. It is also useful for the diagnosis of skin diseases, investigation of the impact of different environmental factors (chemical agents, drugs, UV-radiation, temperature, etc), and evaluation of the effectiveness of skin treatments.
Currently, reflectance and fluorescence spectroscopy are probably the most developed among the available optical methods for investigation of skin in vivo. Reflectance and fluorescence from skin carry information about the structures of the epidermis and dermis, the quantity and density of blood vessels, the concentration and spatial distribution of chromophores and fluorophores in skin, and the nature of skin metabolic processes.
The latest improvements in fiber optics, electronics, and computer
technologies have made reflectance spectroscopy a common and popular technique for skin analysis. Typical applications include in vivo quantitative analysis of skin erythema and pigmentation, determination of cutaneous color variation, monitoring of dermatological treatment effects, and study of skin biophysics.
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