If you’re looking for treatment for melasma in Stockbridge, GA, you might be going through a hard time with your skin. Melasma is nothing to be ashamed of, however, and it can be caused by any number of reasons. But what is melasma, exactly? In this article, we will discuss the treatment for melasma and answer some frequently asked questions about this condition, including if melasma is permanent.
What is melasma? Melasma is a skin condition that causes brown or grey-blue patches of skin to form on the face. It can occur in any area of the face, but is most commonly found on the cheeks, nose, and forehead. Although it is less common, melasma can also occur on a patient’s arms, back, neck, legs, or anywhere else that is exposed to sunlight.
What Melasma Looks Like
Melasma looks like darker-than-usual or grey-blue patches of skin, typically on the face. It is more common in women, but it can effect men as well. It is estimated that up to 33% of people experience melasma at some point in their lifetime.
Why Does Melasma Occur?
Melasma occurs when an excess of melanin accumulates in the skin cells. This caused by a number of factors, including:
- Pregnancy: More specifically, melasma can result after an increase in the hormones progesterone and estrogen.
- Sun exposure: The more frequently our body is exposed to UV light, the more melanin it produces, which is why melasma is more common on areas of the body that are commonly exposed to sunlight. This goes for artificial tanning beds as well.
- Certain medications: Some medications have been known to produce melasma as a side effect, including oral contraceptives, anti-seizure medicines, and any other medication that may make a patient’s skin more sensitive to UV light.
- Thyroid disease: Your thyroid plays an important role in regulating your hormones, and if this is in a state of disease or distress, you may experience melasma.
- Stress: While it is not conclusive, some studies suggest that stress can trigger melasma as well.
Melasma When Pregnant
Melasma is sometimes called the “mask of pregnancy,” because it can be sparked by hormones brought on by pregnancy. This skin disorder is particularly common in pregnant women, with 15%-50% experiencing melasma at some point during the course of their pregnancy. It typically presents in women ages 20-40, but melasma can affect men as well. Other risk factors for patients include if they have a family history of melasma, or if they have a medium-to-dark skin tone.
Are Melasma Spots Permanent?
While melasma can be unusual-looking and can sometimes make the patient feel self-conscious, it is generally not a serious condition in that it is harmless and can be temporary, or treated within a few months. However, some melasma is permanent or at least takes a while to treat while the dermatologist narrows down the possible triggers for the condition.
Does Melasma Hurt?
While some patients experiencing melasma might find themselves self-conscious or embarrassed of the condition, it doesn’t itch, burn, hurt, or in any way “become malignant.” However, it can be treated with regular visits to the dermatologist, so most people who experience melasma decide to work with a qualified dermatologist right away.
What Is the Treatment for Melasma?
Because there are so many possible root causes for melasma, the treatment for this condition can become somewhat complex. There are things patients can do, like using oral or topical medications—but there are also certain things or activities patients should avoid, including:
- Tanning or prolonged sun exposure
- Waxing body hair
- Scented soap, body wash, or other potentially irritating skin care products
- Using makeup
- Overexposure to LED light from screens
- Oral contraceptives based on estrogen and progesterone
- Or other hormone treatments
In addition to avoiding these things and activities, patients may use topical gels or creams to treat their melasma. Most of the following topical medicines use tyrosinase inhibitors to prevent the formation of new pigment:
- Tretinoin: This type of topical medication may not be used during pregnancy, and may cause dermatitis because it is a topical retinoid. It is, however, effective at treating melasma.
- Tranexamic acid: This type of medicine can be oral, or in the form of a cream or an injection.
- Alpha hydroxyacid: This is essentially a chemical peel that is topically applied to remove layers of pigmented skin.
- Soybean extract: While the results are somewhat inconclusive, it is believed that soybean extract can limit the transfer of pigment from melanocytes and dermal cells.
- Hydroquinone: This topical medication is applied to the affected area in the evenings for up to four months.
- Methimazole: This antithyroid medication can be topical or in a pill form, and is an excellent option for hydroquinone-resistant melasma.
- Hydrocortisone: This type of medication has the twofold benefit of reducing the appearance of the affected melasma areas on the skin while lessen the chance of dermatitis caused by other medications.
- Azelaic acid: This topically medicine can be applied twice a day and is often recommended for pregnant women.
- Cysteamine: While there are still studies being done on the effects of cysteamine cream, most find it more effective than a placebo.
Typically, a dermatologist will attack melasma with a couple of different medications, taking into account the patient’s circumstances. Typically, a combination of a topical steroid, tretinoin, and hydroquinone yields the best results.
Potential Future Treatments for Melasma
While there is no way to remove melanin from skin, there are other compounds that are currently being studied for their effects on melasma, including:
- Zinc sulfate
- Licorice extract
- Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
- Kojic acid
Other potential future treatments include Arbutin, Deoxyarbutin, Glutathione, Mequinol, Runical, and Resveratrol.
Treatment for Melasma in Stockbridge, GA
If you or a loved one is experiencing melasma, you don’t have to sit idly by and allow this condition to affect your self-esteem. While melasma might not have the malignant characteristics of skin cancer, it can affect the way a patient thinks and feels about their skin; this is why so many dermatologists approach treatment for melasma in Stockbridge, GA with a multi-pronged approach to patient care, involving multiple different types of medications for the best results.