Melasma is a common pigmentation disorder that results in dark-brown or blue-gray patches on the skin in the sun-exposed areas. It can present as confluent, punctuate, or reticulate hyperpigmented macules (either as flat patches of freckle-like spots) that are distributed symmetrically over the skin surface as identifying marks on either side of the face. This acquired skin concern is also referred to as chloasma (or mask of pregnancy) when it develops in pregnant women.
Melasma most often appears on the face but can also occur on the neck and forearms. The most common locations affected by melasma include upper lips, cheeks, bridge of nose, forehead, chin, and forearms. It is a harmless condition that is not associated with any organ malfunction or internal diseases. However, the brown staining of the skin can affect the appearance and the way the person feels about it, which is why people treat it for cosmetic purposes.
Melasma is predominant in people who have darker skin types and 90% of the affected patients are women. It is highly prevalent in Asia, Latin America, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. People with brown skin color and sun-exposed skin are more susceptible to getting melasma.
Melasma occurs when the melanocytes (skin-color producing cells) produce an excess of melanin (a skin-colored pigment). This concern is found to be usually associated with the female hormones (progesterone and estrogen) whose levels can affect melanin production.
Hence, women are at higher risk of developing melasma in the following cases:
There is no need for treatment in most individuals with melasma as it can settle on its own. The discolored spots or patches may gradually fade away by just discontinuing the intake of birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy. If melasma appears during pregnancy, it may resolve a few months after childbirth while people who live in tropical climates may have persistent pigmentation for many years.
For people with melasma not fading away on its own or those who are bothered about their appearance can get those managed using dermatologist-recommended topical creams or cosmetic in-office procedures. There are several treatments available for melasma but a single treatment cannot be effective for every patient. However, in any treatment plan, wearing broad-spectrum sunscreens that protect the skin against UVA and UVB light must be included and used daily. In addition, the patients can also use a physical block like zinc and titanium oxide above chemical sunscreens to sun-protect the skin even more. It is recommended to stop the use of creams or makeup that can irritate the skin and the skin must be gently treated as much as possible.
After the diagnosis of melasma the skin doctor at DNA Skin Clinic, often prescribes a cream containing hyd-roquin-one. It is the most used and effective depigmenting agent which is available in low strengths in over-the-counter creams and higher strength in prescribed creams. This works by reducing the activity of melanocytes rather than destroying them and can provide maximum results in 3 to 6 months. The skin professional may even prescribe creams containing hyd-roquin-one combined with other depigmenting agents such as aze-laic acid, kojic acid, tret-inoin, corticosteroids, or glycolic acid. Other than these prescribed ones, there are also available over-the-counter natural products that can bleach the skin and are found to be effective in mild cases of melasma.
Another approach to treat melasma is to lighten the dark patches but so far this is not consistent. In moderate to severe cases of melasma, the dermatologist at DNA Skin Clinic, may recommend some in-office skin resurfacing procedures. These procedures must be performed with great care only by skin experts who are familiar with their use and are experienced holders in treating melasma patients. Although such treatments that remove the skin layers have the potential to worsen melasma as they can cause significant skin irritation if they are done properly they can benefit the selected patients.
Q.1 What triggers melasma?
Hormonal fluctuations are the key causes that trigger melasma. Hormone therapies, menopause, intake of oral contraceptives, and use of the wrong cosmetic can also cause melasma.
Q.2 What are the skincare tips to prevent melasma?
Dr. Priyanka Reddy, is one of the best dermatologists practicing at DNA Skin Clinic. She has many years of experience in managing melasma and other hyperpigmentation concerns. She is known to provide the latest and most effective pigmentation treatments to manage melasma and other hyperpigmentation conditions. For more information, please feel free to get in touch with us!
Melasma | Dr. Priyanka Reddy | DNA Skin Clinic |