It can be emotionally distressing to develop darker skin patches on the upper lip, cheeks or forehead. Melasma appears without warning, and without any obvious cause. A hyperpigmentation of the skin, melasma affects mostly women and is often caused by hormonal changes combined with UV (ultraviolet) exposure.
The three types of melasma are epidermal melasma (upper skin layer), dermal melasma (inner or middle skin layer), and mixed epidermal and dermal melasma. Though the onset of melasma may seem abrupt and shocking, there are fortunately a number of effective treatments to prevent hyperpigmentation, if not reverse it. Among the most effective of the approaches is avoiding, or minimizing, sun exposure.
What is the Cause of Melasma?
The exact cause and cure of melasma are unknown. However, there appears to be a direct correlation between the occurrence of melasma and female hormone activity. Most often this connection manifests with pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptive pills. The condition can, in some cases, quickly subside when the individual stops taking oral contraceptive pills and is rigorous about sun protection. Other factors that influence melasma are genetics, photosensitizing medications, mild ovarian or thyroid dysfunction, and certain cosmetics.
What Can I Do About Melasma?
The most popular skin lightening agent used in the treatment of melasma is hydroquinone, a drug that is available over-the-counter in a diluted form. Tretinoin, the acid form of vitamin A, This cream is another topical agent that can be effective against melasma and is often used to treat acne. Additional modalities for treating melasma in Seattle & Issaquah include chemical peels, octadecene dioic acid (ODA), azelaic acid, cryotherapy, and laser treatment.
It is critical for successful treatment of melasma that the individual both avoid prolonged exposure to the sun and commit to the daily use of broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30. The recurrence of melasma when this step is not adhered to is highly likely.
Scheduling Your Appointment
If you are struggling to see improvement on your own, it’s time to schedule your appointment. Most over the counter products have a limited ability to improve melasma. Your dermatologist can prescribe the right products or treatment to get your skin back to clear.