What is Melasma?
Melasma is a common skin condition which causes dark, discoloured patches on the skin. It is most common in women of age 20-50 years. It causes brown to greyish brown patches usually on the face. Most people get it on their cheeks, forehead, bridge of their nose, chin and above their upper lip. It can also appear on the other parts of the body that is exposed to the sun such as forearms and neck.
When it occurs in pregnant women, melasma is known as chloasma or the “mask of pregnancy”. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), 90% of people who suffer from melasma are women. But the patches can be cured by applying skin lightening creams on the affected areas of the body.
Signs and Symptoms of Melasma
Melasma causes patches of discolouration which are darker than the usual skin colour. Areas of the body that are usually more exposed to the sun are more likely to get affected by its symptoms. Brown coloured patches may appear on cheeks, forehead, chin and bridge of nose, neck and forearms.
What Causes Melasma?
The exact cause of melasma is still unknown, but experts do believe that dark coloured patches in melasma could be triggered by several factors like pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), birth control pills, family history, and race.
Sunlight is considered to be the most important factor in developing melasma. Studies have shown that individuals typically develop the symptoms during summer months and during winter, the symptoms of melasma tend to regress. Important preventive measures for such individuals include sun avoidance and application of protective clothing and sunscreen usually of at least 30 SPF before stepping out in the sun.
Types of Melasma
There are four types of pigmentation patterns diagnosed in melasma- epidermal, dermal, mixed and an unnamed type found in dark-complexioned people.
- The epidermal type is identified by the presence of an excess of melanin in the layers of skin.
- Dermal melasma is distinguished by the presence of melanophages throughout the dermis.
- The mixed type of melasma includes both the dermal and epidermal type.
- In the 4th type, excessive amounts of melanocytes are present in the skin of the dark-skinned people.
Treatment for Melasma
Melasma can fade on its own. This usually happens when pregnancy or birth control pills cause melasma. When a woman stops taking birth control pills or delivers her baby, melasma can fade.
However, some people have melasma for years. If melasma doesn’t fade away or a woman wants to keep taking birth control pills, treatments for melasma are available. These include- hydroquinone (HQ) 2%. This is the most common treatment for melasma. Products with HQ 2% such as Eukroma Lite cream is an effective therapy for treating melasma.
Clinical studies show that the creams containing 2% of HQ can be effective in lightening the skin and are less irritating than the higher concentrations of HQ. Sunscreen should be applied over the cream every morning. This treatment is for all types of melasma, but the epidermal type responds better to the treatment than the others because the pigment is closer to the surface of the skin.
For severe cases, melasma creams with a higher concentration such as melalite forte cream which has 4% of HQ or the creams with a combination of HQ with other ingredients such as tretinoin like SkinLite cream or along with corticosteroids or glycolic acid may be effective in lightening the skin.
In order to treat melasma, a combination of specially formulated creams with hydroquinone, azelaic acid and retinoic acid, nonphenolic bleaching agents or a kojic acid cream may be prescribed.
Skin Care at Livayush
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