Melasma is characterized by brown (or hyperpigmented) patches that usually appear on the face. This skin condition is more common on women and is usually associated with hormonal changes. It is commonly seen in women who are pregnant, taking oral contraceptives or going through hormone replacement therapy during menopause. The dark discoloration that appears on the cheeks, forehead, nose or upper lip is usually symmetrical on both sides. Women who develop melasma during pregnancy often see it start to fade once the baby is delivered. Melasma will also usually fade when birth control or HRT is no longer being taken but may return if the medications are started again. Sun avoidance and daily use of a good sunscreen is extremely important for prevention of melasma.
- Sun exposure
- Hormone changes
- Anti-seizure medications
Sun exposure is a major melasma trigger because ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun stimulates the melanocytes, which can increase melanin production. Melasma is sometimes referred to as “the pregnancy mask” or chloasma since it’s so common during pregnancy.
CAN MELASMA BE PREVENTED?
You cannot prevent melasma in every case, but there are measures you can take that may help reduce your risk of developing it. Minimize your exposure to sunlight and try to wear sunscreen on a daily basis. We recommend ZO Oclipse Sunscreen plus Primer SPF 30 or Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50.
Hydroquinone: This is the most common treatment option for melasma. Applying Hydroquinone to the skin lightens it, and you can get this medicine in cream, lotion, gel, or liquid form.
Tretinoin: To enhance and expedite the effects of hydroquinone, your medical professional may prescribe Tretinoin.
Chemical Peels: Light chemical peels use salicylic acid, glycolic, or other chemical components to remove the top layers of skin from the face for a more even skin tone. After this procedure, your skin will be pink and sensitive—many say it feels almost like a mild sunburn. After a few days, the skin will begin to peel. Light skin peels can be done every two months.
Microdermabrasion: Regular treatments of microdermabrasion may help reduce the appearance of melasma, as this procedure helps increase cell turnover, helping get rid of cells already affected by the hyperpigmentation. Don’t ever try this kind of procedure without the help of an experienced professional.
Laser Treatment: Intense Pulsed Light, or photo rejuvenation, is a device that emits different wavelengths of light and therefore can treat a more broad range of skin issues. The IPL device was created to treat combinations of skin issues. The definition of an IPL can help you better understand why the IPL can best treat your combination of skin concerns. A series of four to six IPL treatments can significantly reduce facial redness. The device is scanned over the entire area. The skin is mildly more red for only a few hours. There is no break in the skin, no wound care required, and no need to change your regular daily schedule or activities. Regular treatments at varying intervals help maintain your results. The IPL treatments may remove some of the brown sun damage spots as well as the redness.