Melasma: What is it and How is it Treated?

  • Posted on: Apr 28 2022
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Many patients come to us with a pigmentation concern known as melasma. While melasma is a very common, normal, and harmless skin condition, it can significantly impact the quality of life and self-esteem of those affected. Melasma is a chronic condition that doesn’t resolve on its own. So while this condition is stubborn, you can learn how to treat it. In this blog, we’re sharing everything you need to know about melasma. 

What is melasma and what does it look like?

Melasma is a skin condition that causes light brown, dark brown, and/or bluish patches or freckle-like spots on your skin. Sometimes these patches can become red or inflamed. Another name for melasma is chloasma, meaning the “mask of pregnancy,” as  it often occurs in pregnant women. The most common occurrence of melasma is on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin, and upper lip. 

Where can melasma occur on the body?

The location of your melasma is an important factor when considering treatment options. Melasma appears in six different areas of the body and can also appear in a combination of these locations – the forehead, cheeks, nose, upper lip, shoulders and upper arms, and neck

What are the types of melasma?

There are three different types of melasma: epidermal, dermal, and mixed melasma. Each of these different types of melasma relates to the depth of the pigment in the skin. Epidermal melasma is the most superficial type, with an increase in melanin (skin pigment) in the top layer of the skin. Dermal melasma occurs when the pigment is in the deeper layers of the skin. Mixed melasma is a combination of epidermal and dermal melasma. These distinctions are important because they affect how your health care provider treats your melasma. 

What causes melasma?

The exact causes of melasma are still unknown, but genetics, hormones, pregnancy, birth control pills, medications, cosmetics, and prolonged sun exposure often trigger melasma. While both men and women are at risk of developing melasma, statistics show that it affects more women than men. Many patients begin to notice melasma in their late twenties or early thirties. According to the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance, 50-70 percent of pregnant women will develop some degree of melasma.

How is melasma treated?

To diagnose your melasma, our Clinic 805 medical aesthetics nurse will examine your skin by taking a closer look at your face with the VISIA® Complexion Analysis System. The VISIA® is a mulit-spectral imaging system that creates an in-depth analysis of your skin health and a comprehensive report examining 8 key areas of skin health. This knowledge is extremely important when diagnosing and treating melasma and will guide your individualized treatment program. 

A variety of treatment options are available to treat your melasma. Clinic 805 treats melasma with medical-grade skin care products and laser therapy using the Laser Genesis technology. 

Medical grade skincare for melasma 

We recommend the ZO® Skin Health Hydroquinone line as it’s the gold standard for treating melasma. Hydroquinone is a topical skin-bleaching agent used in the cosmetic treatment of hyperpigmented skin conditions. A combination of creams containing retinol, corticosteroids, or glycolic acids may also be combined with hydroquinone to enhance the skin-lightening effect.  Daily use of zinc based SPF is critical to treating melasma and preventing increased severity of the condition, in combination with medical grade skin care.

Laser Genesis treatments for melasma 

Laser Genesis™ technology safely and effectively evens out the complexion and reduces redness, erythema flush, fine lines, and pore size. By gently heating the upper dermis, the laser targets broken blood vessels, reduces redness and scars, and stimulates collagen production. Most people experience an overall healthier skin complexion with improved texture and tone, less visible redness, reduced pore size, and a decrease in fine lines. This treatment requires no downtime.

Depending on the treatment and the individual patient, it may take several months to see substantial improvement in the melasma pigmentation. Patients should consider their treatment options carefully. 

How to manage your melasma

Everyone’s skin is unique, and your melasma treatment should be specific to your individual skin care needs. Although melasma cannot be “cured,” patients can manage their symptoms with an effective treatment plan created by one of our Skin Health Experts, along with diligent and consistent sunscreen usage. When you book a consultation at Clinic 805, we will consider your skin tone, how deeply your melasma reaches into your skin, and any melasma triggers you may have. If you’re ready to even out our skin tone and restore it to its natural colour and radiance, we’re here to help. Book a consultation with us today. 

Posted in: Health & Wellness, Medical Aesthetic Procedures

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