Could it be Melasma?
Commonly referred to as, The Mask of Pregnancy, if you’ve noticed blotchy, dark brown, patches of skin arising on your forehead, upper lip, nose, and/or cheeks, you may have Melasma.
While this common skin condition is harmless and does not cause pain, it can cause emotional distress for many, due to the apparent symptoms which often occur in facial areas.
Melasma is not only associated with pregnancy but can affect women at all stages of life, from all different ethnicities. This bothersome skin condition may linger for many years once it arises, however, there are some things you can do to manage your Melasma or treat it for good.
So, what exactly is Melasma?
Melasma is a commonly known skin disorder affecting both men and women through the appearance of brown patches or discoloration forming on the skin. The result is due to the production of excess pigment being produced bought on by a number of contributing factors. These can include; genetics, sun exposure, and hormonal changes. Usually, those with medium to darker skin tones are more prone to the condition due to the excess production of melanin. Although there may not be a direct cure for the condition, learning about the various triggers and flare-ups may contribute to tackling that excess pigment.
Common Causes of Melasma
Although a number of factors play a role in the cause behind Melasma, sun damage is one of the major reasons for this skin condition.
Certain medications, genetics, hormone imbalances, acne, immune illnesses along with the natural ageing process, can each play a significant part in the cause of Melasma also.
How can Melasma be treated?
The first step in determining the most suitable way to treat Melasma is addressing the internal cause. Sun protection and effective light blocking of the skin is a considerable method in treating and managing the condition. The higher exposure to visible light increases the melanin production process resulting in darker areas of the skin.
In-clinic treatments include chemical peels, micro-needling, and a series of laser or light-based treatments, however, these can carry high risks of inducing further pigment. Depending on your overall skin condition and desired results, it is recommended to see a professional whereby they can advise on the most suitable treatment for your Melasma.
- Various creams such as Hydroquinone cream, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Azelaic Adic (20%)
- Chemical peels
- Series of laser or light-based treatments – however, these carry high risks of inducing further pigment
- “Diamond Microdermabrasion or gentle AHA peels”
How to Manage Melasma
In addition to seeking medical-grade treatments, the ongoing management and upkeep of this condition are crucial in getting the most out of treatments as well as maintaining the instructed skincare regime. Ensure the consistent use of SPF sunscreen is used daily for sun protection, even when you may not be directly in the sunlight, protection is needed from other forms of light such as indoor lighting and devices.
Introducing a Vitamin C and/or Retinol into the skincare routine can assist in brightening the pigment and adding extra protection. These can also assist in healing the harmful effects of sunlight.
Avoiding saunas and steam rooms that may stimulate the production of the pigment is recommended as well as the need to be proactive about keeping cool whilst exercising. Sipping on water, applying a damp towel to the face, and positioning yourself close to a fan to minimise overall heat exposure.
Things to Avoid
- The number one tool in effectively managing the severity of melasma is to steer clear of the sun, which is why sun protection is the most important factor in managing the condition. Wide brim hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and clothing coverage can assist in minimizing the development of excess pigmentation.
- When introducing new products into the skincare routine, avoid the use of too many active ingredients all at once as this will irritate the skin and, in some cases, can elevate the symptoms of melasma.
- Traditional bleaching creams can usually be prescribed but are not ideal for the long-term as regular use may cause irritation and impact the skin’s natural barrier function.