Melasmuch? What Is Melasma And How Can I Make It Go Away

Are dark spots and patchy skin discolorations all too looking familiar lately? You may be developing melasma. What is it, how do you prevent it from happening, and how do you get rid of it, now that you have it?

What is Melasma?

Melasma is a very common type of facial discoloration that is darker than your natural skin color that manifests as patchy brown, tan, or bluish-gray color usually seen in the upper cheeks, bridge of the nose, upper lip, forehead, and chin, but, can also appear on the neck and forearms.

The skin discoloration is not known to do any physical harm, but you may feel self-conscious about the way it looks. Some people who have it say that it has affected their self-esteem, impacting their quality of life.

Melasma Fast Facts

  • The cause of melasma is not yet known, although it is thought to be primarily related to:

    • external sun exposure - ultraviolet rays affect the cells that control pigment (melanocytes)

    • hormonal changes - estrogen and progesterone sensitivity that may be caused by the use of birth control pills, hormone therapy, or pregnancy.

    • stress and thyroid disease are also thought to trigger melasma

  • The condition is much more common in women than men, though men can get it too. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 90% of people who develop melasma are women, and commonly occurs at the age of 20 and up.

  • Most people with melasma have a history of daily or intermittent sun exposure, although heat is also suspected to be an underlying factor.

  • People with olive or darker skin, like Hispanic, Asian, and Middle Eastern individuals, have higher risks of developing melasma.

  • Melasma in pregnant women a.k.a. chloasma, or the “mask of pregnancy” is most common among especially those of Latin and Asian descents.

Is there a way to prevent it?

Prevention is primarily aimed at using proper sun protection such as sunscreen (at least SPF50), the use of hats and/or umbrellas, and protective clothing in extended periods of sun exposure. Sun avoidance, when possible, can help a lot as well.

How can I make it go away?

While not all cases of melasma will clear up with treatment, there are things you can do to make sure the condition doesn’t get worse and to minimize the appearance of the discoloration. These include:

  • Undergoing dermatologist treatment

  • Undergoing Laser treatments such as Pico / NDYAG Laser

  • Using makeup to cover areas of discoloration

  • Regular sunscreen application

  • Using medications with 4% hydroquinone and other fading creams

  • Serums with skin lighteners such as vitamin c, tranexamic acid, kojic acid, and glutathione

  • Microneedling such as derma pen or roller combined with skin lightening serums encourages new skin formation, improves overall skin texture, promotes collagen and elastin production, lightens dark spots and pigmentation

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