Hyperpigmentation comes in all kinds of forms. Tiny dark spots that form at the edge of the eyes, redness of spots on the neck and post-inflammatory spots that persist after an outbreak. Melasma is another common form of hyperpigmentation.And it’s more common than you think. It is also one of the most difficult types to treat, as it can rear its head again and again. If you have ever had melasma, are dealing with melasma now, or know someone who does, we have answers for you.
What is Melasma?
Unlike other forms of hyperpigmentation, melasma appears almost exclusively on the face, including the cheeks, forehead, and nose, and is characterized by chronic and recurring discoloration.
What also differentiates it from other types of discoloration is that it disproportionately affects women of reproductive age and appears to be closely related to hormones. In fact, melasma even has a second name: “pregnancy mask”- because many times it appears or worsens during pregnancy. (Curiously, Men with melasma have been found to have low testosterone levels, which also suggests a hormonal Link.)
certain ethnicities are also more likely to experience melasma, including those from EEast Asia (Japan, Korea and China), IndiaPakistan, and people of the Middle East and Mediterranean-Africa.
What causes melasma?
There is still no defined or known cause for melasma, but it is clear that hormonal fluctuations have an impact, notes Dr Simran Sethi, MD and founder of RenewMDBeauty and Wellness. The big changes that occur with pregnancy and menopause seem to trigger melasma especially.
Physiologically speaking, Dr Sethi says meterElasma is caused by “hyperfunctionalmelanocytes– AKA pigment-producing cells. they deposit excessive amounts of melanin pigment in the superficial layer of the skin (the epidermis) and the deepest layer of the skin (the dermis).
Melasma worsens markedly with sun exposure. It can cause existing melasma hyperpigmentation to darken or enlarge, even if it was previously treated and faded, and can trigger new episodes.
How is melasma treated?
Generally speaking, hyperpigmentation is a bear for try. Melasma is known to be even more complicated to treat, largely because it is so sensitive to triggers like hormones and the sun. What makes it especially frustrating is that melasma can disappear substantially and then come back with a vengeance.
“Melasma usually clears up during the cooler months and seems to be exacerbated by heat or sunlight”, explains Dr. Sethi. She adds, “Melasma can be treated with somemedical-aesthetic treatment office. HHowever, these treatments are usually not permanent.and MMaintenance is strongly recommended.”
The tThree The best thing you can do to treat melasma. should wear sunscreen every day, follow a nourishing and hydrating skin care routineY use exfoliating treatments.
1. Wear Full Spectrum SPF 30+ every day without fail.
Dr Sethi says, “Wear sunscreen andeven when it’s not sunny, and also when you’re sitting in front of your computer indoors. We get incident light from windows, so using sun protection indoors is just as important as it is outdoors.”
Sunscreen doesn’t have to be boring, by the way! There is so many beautiful, resplendentlight options that will make your skin look illuminated. some of our favorites facial sunscreens include:
If you have sensitive, oily, or acne-prone skin, we love Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 PA +++, $30, which works wonderfully under makeup, doesn’t feel sticky, and doesn’t leave a tint obvious white.
2. Follow a nourishing skin care Routine
A consistent and nourishing skincare routine is a must. for everyone, but it can make a noticeable difference with melasma.
“Melasma may exhaustme the integrity of the skin barrier between the superficial layer of the epidermis that houses the pigment cells and the deeper layer of the dermis”, says Dr. Sethi. “If there is dryness or inflammation of the skin, it will further deplete the skin barriers and promote pigment deposits, making potential melasma treatments more difficult: such as laser therapy or microneedles – to get to the pigment.”
A solid skincare regimen consists of a gentle cleanser, hydrating serum, moisturizing lotion, and daily SPF, in that order! You can double the above by adding nourishing masks once or twice a week.
3. Try exfoliating treatments and products
Along with preventative care And maintenance, you can attack melasma with exfoliating products and treatments. There are some over-the-counter options available that may help a little, but more aggressive in-office treatments are likely to give better results.
Over-the-counter ingredients to look for include trichloroacetic acid (TCA), tranexamic acid, arbutin, Y tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THD). Some of our favorite products to try are:
There are a handful of in-office treatments they can do a remarkable dent in melasma discoloration. Some of the more popular options include specific types of laser treatments (Keep in mind that some lasers can make melasma worse!), microneedlesand strong chemical peels.
“Typical laser treatments work against melasma because exposure to heat and light inflame and worsen, especially if they are not designed to treat or suitable for deeper, darker pigment and melanized fur”, says Dr. Sethi. “I always recommend the Psure Laser, which emits pressure waves in very short pulses to break down the pigment without generating heat, making it safe and effective for the reduction of melasma pigmentation.”
When treating melasma with picosurDr. Sethi begins with four to six treatments spaced four weeks apart. In some cases, she may also prescribe Hydroquinone 8% to reduce additional melanocyte activity during treatment.
In the office microneedles and/or aAggressive chemical peels with AHAs, TCAs, and hydroquinone can also help. As is often the case, a customized approach that suits your specific needs is best.
Have you dealt with melasma before? How was your experience? Let’s chat in the comments.
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