What is melasma?
Melasma is the darkish brown pigmentation that occurs on the forehead, cheeks, upper lip and chin symmetrically on both sides of the face. It occurs exclusively in females and rarely in men. It is most commonly seen in women when associated with pregnancy, use of birth control pills and/or hormone replacement therapy. For these reasons, it is believed to be associated with the female hormones. It occurs most commonly in women with darker coloring to their skin such as Hispanics, Asians, Middle Easterners, Eastern Europeans and so on. Along with the darker skin, when these women expose themselves to sunlight then the excess melanin is formed in the skin.
What causes melasma?
Although the exact mechanism is not known, melasma usually accompanies the use of hormones, or other sun sensitizing medications, along with exposure to the sun. Melasma will usually be seen the most at the end of the summer after usual exposure to the sun and will decrease in the winter.
Superficial melasma, that discoloration which is limited to the epidermis of the skin, which may be formed during pregnancy (also called chloasma) will often resolve a few weeks after delivery. Deeper melasma, that discoloration which is in the dermis portion of the skin, may last for months or even years and is very difficult to clear.
What are the treatments for melasma?
Dr. Nalini Prasad states, “The first and foremost treatment is the daily use of an effective sun block.” At Laser Esthetica, we carry several brands of Sun block which are both effective and soothing to the skin.
Other treatments include chemical applications such as hydroquinone with retinoids, azeleic acid and kojic acid all of which can be purchased or prescribed by Dr Prasad.
We also use a series of chemical peels – lactic acid and/or glycolic peels which help with decreasing.
A newer peel called Melanage has been used in our clinic for the treatment of melasma. This peel has a downtime of three or four days but Dr. Prasad has indicated that it has been shown to have great results.
IPL or Fotofacial treatments can be helpful for a few patients especially if they have superficial melasma. In general, lasers are not the first choice to treat melasma.
The best way to understand the most effective treatment for you is to come in for a personalized consultation with Dr. Prasad to discuss the discoloration of your skin. We recommend calling our office today. Call (916) 333-6993.