Melasma is a skin condition that is a form of hyperpigmentation that forms in patches, mainly on the face. The areas most commonly affected on the face are the bridge of the nose, cheeks, upper lip, and forehead. Melasma can also affect other areas of the body to include the forearms, neck, and shoulders. Usually, Melasma appears in areas most exposed to sunlight. Women are more susceptible to Melasma due to hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, hormone therapy treatments, or while on birth control. The American Academy of Dermatology states that only 10 percent of all cases of Melasma occurs in men. Women with a higher Fitzpatrick (or darker skin tone) are also more susceptible to the risk of developing Melasma.
What Causes Melasma?
To date, Melasma is still one of the most challenging skin conditions to treat, primarily because doctors don’t fully understand the cause of Melasma or why it occurs. Currently, it is suspected that hormones, heat, genetics, and a malfunction of melanocyte activity are all possible causes of Melasma.
Symptoms of Melasma
Primarily the symptom of Melasma is the appearance of darker, non-uniform patches of discoloration to the skin. While Melasma doesn’t cause any physical symptoms, it is one of the top beauty and skincare concerns among women.
Treatment of Melasma
While treatments aren’t always necessary, many women find the appearance bothersome and want ways to reduce the look of Melasma and have a more uniform look to their skin. For some, Melasma will go away on its own, especially if it comes on during pregnancy or while taking birth control pills. Once the baby is delivered and hormones balance out, or birth control is stopped, the Melasma will typically disappear on its own. If Melasma doesn’t fade over time, then there are treatment options available. These treatments are, but not limited to:
- Hydroquinone is a topical gel, cream, or lotion that doctors will prescribe to help lighten the patches. It controls the overactive melanocyte activity.
- Tretinoin and Corticosteroids – These are topical treatments that come in the form of gels, creams, or lotions. Both of these can help lighten the Melasma. Sometimes even a combination of hydroquinone, tretinoin, and corticosteroids are prescribed together.
- In addition to topical treatments, there are also procedures performed within a medical spa or with a dermatologist which may include the following, or a combination of these treatments:
- Microdermabrasion, Dermal Infusion, Hydrafacial
- Chemical Peels
- Laser Treatments
- Light Therapy
- It is always best to see a dermatologist or medical esthetician to find out what treatment options are best and what possible risks may be included with treatments.
While the causes of Melasma are still primarily unknown, it is good to know that there are treatments available to help relieve symptoms and even skin tone. At Austin Plastic Surgery, we offer many services to help fight against Melasma, which has proven to be very useful. Things you can do at home to control your Melasma are following a proper skincare protocol, staying out of the sun or extreme heat for long periods, and wearing a good, clinical sunscreen daily.