Over 6 million people suffer with melasma and as many as half of these patients know little to nothing about how to treat it or its cause. While the condition isn’t physically harmful, the appearance of melasma can greatly affect your self-esteem! Here’s what you need to know if you suffer from it:
What is melasma?
Melasma is a common pigment disorder that causes deep emotional stress affecting quality of life. It comes from the Greek word “melas” meaning black. It’s commonly referred to as a pregnancy mask since it’s a hormone induced hyperpigmentation. Its typical presentation is large patches with a distinct line of demarcation, usually seen on the face, although it can be found on the body. It is more predominate in women, however, 10% of the cases are reported in men. It’s more dominant in darker skinned patients with the skin type Fitzpatrick IV or higher.
What causes melasma?
The primary causes of melasma are typically hormone related due to fluctuations during pregnancy, menopause, hormone replacement therapy, or thyroid or hormonal disorders though not common in puberty. Increased amounts of epidermal and dermal melanin and branching of melanocytes have been related to the condition. Some studies suggest a vascular component as well. Environmental offenders such as heat while cooking and UV rays may exacerbate the condition along with inflammatory stimulants.
How is melasma treated?
Treatment for melasma may consist of suppressing the melanocytes and increasing cellular turn over. Prescriptions or acids such as hydroquinone, retinols, L-ascorbic acid, kojic acid, lactic acid, azelaic acid, and arbutin are a few topical products used to treat melasma. However, the single most important step you can take is to protect your skin from UV rays.