Melasma is a common skin problem of adults in which brown patches of pigmentation form on an affected individual’s face. It is more common in women, especially during pregnancy (up to 50% of women might be affected) and 20 – 50 years of age. Nonetheless, men might be affected sometimes. Melasma is more common in people who get tanned easily but it can occur to anyone. Most affected individuals get it on their cheeks, nose, forehead, chin and neck (body areas that are always exposed to direct sunlight).
What Causes Melasma?
The exact cause of Melasma is not yet clear, but it is thought to happen when the color-making cells (melanocytes) produce too much pigment (melanin). People with skin of color are more vulnerable to Melasma due to more active melanocytes. Although it isn’t genetically passed down, those with a family history of the condition are more prone to Melasma. The common factors that contribute to Melasma include:
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can activate the melanocytes. A little amount of sun exposure can trigger Melasma to return after fading. The skin condition is noticeable and worse during the summer period. It also contributes to the repetitive development of Melasma for affected individuals who do not take proper care of their skin.
A change in hormones can trigger the skin pigmentation to occur, especially during pregnancy or consumption of hormonal drugs such as birth control pills and hormone replacement. Approximately 50% of pregnant women have Melasma. When it occurs, the condition is called chloasma, or the mask of pregnancy.
Skin care products can irritate one’s skin and worsen the condition of Melasma. If it occurs during pregnancy, it might subside within a few months after delivery – so treatments might not be necessary.
Can Melasma be Cured?
Currently, there is no cure for the skin condition, but there are treatments available to improve the appearance.
How to Treat Melasma?
There are many treatments for Melasma including:
Decrease the intake of medications like birth control and hormone replacement pills. Note that certain medications can trigger the appearance of Melasma.
Use sunblock for protection and avoid excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun.
Use skin brightening creams to lighten the appearance of brown pigmentation.
Use procedures such as chemical peels, micro needling and laser.
Progressive Results of Melasma Treatments
While these techniques might seem ineffective for some individuals, there are clinical treatments available to reduce the appearance of discolored pigmentation. The Madonna Oxylight Facial and PICO are some of the effective treatments at Nuffield Aesthetics. It is a non-laser skin rejuvenation treatment that targets all types of skin problems such as melasma, redness, rosacea and PIH. Meanwhile, it has also been clinically proven for safety and efficacy in fixing acne scars, fine wrinkles, brightening skin tone and tightening pores. Patients can expect virtually pain-free, zero downtime, minimally invasive and no side effects after the treatment. Although a few sessions may be needed, the results can be quite substantial. Most importantly, it will keep the formation of new spots in check.
After going through the clinical treatment, it is important to take good care of one’s skin. The following advice will help you to achieve an even skin tone after the treatment:
Wear sunblock on a daily basis. One of the best treatments to practice for Melasma is sun protection. As excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun triggers Melasma, it is essential for individuals to wear sunscreen daily, even on cloudy days or after swimming classes. Choose a sunblock that provides broad-spectrum protection, a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 50, and physically minimise the exposure of the sun’s rays on your skin. For instance, one should apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside and reapply at least every two hours.
Wear a cap and sunglasses when you’re outside. The sunscreen alone might not give you full protection from the sun. Whenever possible, one should seek shade and wear protective clothing besides applying sunscreen.
Choose suitable skin care products. While some skin products might trigger the pigmentation to become worse, one should select suitable skin care products that don’t irritate, as it might worsen the skin condition.
Practice a healthy diet. It is important to avoid eating too much junk food, processed food, factory-made food, artificial sweeteners, flavour enhancers, food colouring, and chemical additives. Instead, you can switch to organic, fresh and nutritious food such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, meats, fish, eggs, herbs and so on. Eating quality food and adding more antioxidants (vitamin c) in your meal will help you in achieving a clear skin complexion.
If your melasma does not go away, you should consult an aesthetic clinic or a board-certified doctor to evaluate available treatments for Melasma, such as prescription medications, clinical treatments, or any other procedures.