Melasma is a skin condition that causes brown to gray-brown patches which usually appear on the cheeks, bridge of nose, forehead, chin, and upper lip. Most Melasma occurs in women with darker skin tones but is seen in fairer skinned women as well. Causes of Melasma are still unknown but hormones, pregnancy, birth control pills, cosmetics, and prolonged sun exposure often trigger melasma. Melasma during pregnancy is often called the “mask of pregnancy.” Most patients start noticing Melasma starting in their late twenties or early thirties.
A variety of creams are available to treat Melasma. An active ingredient in these creams may be hydroquinone, a commonly used skin-lightening agent. A combination of creams containing retinol, corticosteroids, or glycolic acids may be combined with hydroquinone to enhance the skin-lightening effect. Soy-based creams may be helpful in reducing Melasma if a patient is allergic to hydroquinone or is pregnant. Elective additional treatments such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and/or laser therapy should be performed by an experienced professional under the guidance of a physician. These procedures have been known to cause a rebound effect on some occasions and can worsen the Melasma, therefore patients must consider their treatment options carefully. It may take several months to see substantial improvement in the Melasma pigmentation. Clinic 805 treats Melasma with medical grade skincare products only.
Along with lightening agents, it is strongly recommended that Melasma patients use sunscreen daily year-round. UVA rays can penetrate clouds and glass and can be stronger in the winter. Select a minimum 30 SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen that contains a physical block with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Wear sunscreen every day, even after the Melasma lightens, to help prevent it from darkening again.
Unfortunately, Melasma cannot be “cured” and patients have to accept that it is a lifelong condition that must be managed. Melasma reduction management emphasizes a comprehensive combination approach of minimizing sun exposure, protecting the skin with a broad spectrum sunscreen year-round, reducing skin irritation, and using skin lightening agents.