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Understanding Melasma

Dermatology Checking Her Patient
If you've ever heard of the mask of pregnancy, people aren't talking about that lovely glow that women get when they are expecting. They are actually talking about a skin condition known as melasma. The condition, more common in women than in men, impacts even those who are not pregnant.
Individuals with melasma may present gray or brown pigmentation that looks like lesions, typically surrounding the chin, forehead, and cheeks. The condition is often spontaneous, and people who experience the skin condition come from all walks of life.
Are you curious about melasma? Keep reading to learn more about this condition and see if it can be treated.

The Symptoms of Melasma

Melasma appears as dark and irregular spots along the face, similar to other types of hyperpigmentation. The patches typically present on the cheeks, nose, lips, and forehead. They often start small and become darker and more prominent with time. The spots become much more apparent with certain types of hormones present throughout the body.
Melasma typically does not come with intense pain. In fact, many people might not know the patches are there until they look in the mirror.

The Causes of Melasma

Melasma is still quite a mysterious skin condition, but doctors believe it is brought on by stimulation of melanocytes, which are cells in the dermal layer of the skin. This is caused by estrogen and progesterone, the female sex hormones. These hormones produce additional melanin your body does not need, especially when your skin is exposed to the sun. Birth control pills work in a similar way.
Melasma is more common in women with light brown skin coloring. It is also more common in women who live in areas of the world with intense sun exposure.
Some researchers have found a link between thyroid diseases and melasma as well. This could be a result of the hormones your body creates when you are ill.
Melasma could be linked to the overproduction of a hormone that stimulates melanocyte that occurs with stress. Pay close attention to any emotional or mental symptoms you feel when you also have an outbreak of melasma.

The Treatment of Melasma

Your dermatologist will recommend a treatment plan for the melasma you experience. Often, topical ointments are the best possible choice for patients who come into a dermatology clinic.
Some doctors use a hydroquinone skin bleach paired with high-block sunscreens. Many patients report that the melasma dissipates with regular use of this treatment. Others benefit from the use of glycolic acid peels and Retin-A solutions. Sometimes using more than one treatment at once is a good idea.
Some people also find solace in using oral medications to treat melasma. Dietary changes, like the addition of Vitamin A or Vitamin C, may also lead to benefits.

The Prevention of Melasma

Melasma is preventable in some cases. Paying close attention to the preventative measures your dermatologist recommends is a good start.
Another way to prevent melasma is to avoid staying out in the sun. If you must be in the sun, do not forget to wear sunblock. Even being out in the sun for a single day can darken your melasma spots. You will also benefit from wearing a hat, scarf, or sunglasses to protect your skin.
Next, make sure you do not scrub your skin too hard. Doing so could cause your skin to become more irritated.
One of the best things you can do for your skin at this point is to contact a dermatologist to help you treat your melasma. Call John M. Humeniuk, M.D., to discuss the potential treatment for your melasma.