Melasma is a skin problem in which brown or gray-brown patches develop on the skin (generally on cheeks, nose, forehead, chin upper lip). It also develops in those parts of the body which are more exposed to the sunlight, like – neck.
Cause of Melasma;
Melasma develops more on women than on men’s skin. It appears to the people with darker skin, generally from North American, Asian, Middle East, Mediterranean etc. People who have a blood relative who had Melasma, are also much more likely to get Melasma.
It is not yet clear about what causes melasma. As per experts, it mostly occurs when the color-making cells of the skin (melanocytes) produces too much color. Hence, people with skin of color are more prone to melasma due to highly active melanocytes.
Common Melasma Triggers;
- Sun exposure
UV (Ultraviolet) light from sun fuels the melanocytes. In fact, a small amount of sunlight is capable of developing melasma even after fading.
- A change in hormones
When melasma appears in pregnant women, it is known as Chloasma/ Mask of pregnancy. Consuming medicines which brings a change in hormones can also generate Melasma.
Skin care products which are not suitable for a sensitive skin can also generate melasma and even worsen it.
Diagnosis, Treatment and Outcome;
A device called wood’s light is used by the dermatologists to check that how much Melasma has affected the skin. Otherwise, most dermatologists can diagnose patients by looking at the skin.
Sometimes, melasma can look like yet another skin condition and might develop a problem in differentiating between a healthy skin and melasma skin. To rule that, the dermatologists may need to remove a bit of skin and run tests over it.
Generally melasma develops in pregnant women and those who are taking birth control pills. In those cases, it fades out by its own after delivering the baby or stops taking birth control pills.
But in some people, it even stays for a year or for a lifetime. If it doesn’t go away, then there are few treatments which are available; Hydroquinone, Tretinoin or Corticosteroids. If even after using topical medicines, the melasma are not fading out, then a procedure is available which includes a chemical peel, Microdermabrasion and dermabrasion. Though new skin problems can occur if not executed properly, keeping factors like; skin type etc.
Treatments sometimes also comes with side effects like developing health problems. So, one should consult a dermatologist about any possible side effects before using the medicine.
NOTE: If you face any of these problems after treating melasma, then consult your dermatologist as soon as possible; skin irritation, darkening of skin or any other issues related to skin.
Most patients with melasma have a good outcome after treatment. Though it is very important to follow dermatologist’s advice after treatment so that it won’t be able to recur again and hence preventing the skin from the side effects.
After your melasma fades out, you may have to keep treating your skin, which is known as maintenance therapy. It can prevent melasma from recurring.
Tips For Managing
- Wear sunscreen
- Wear wide-brimmed hat when you are out in the summer
- Choose skin care products gently
- Avoid waxing