Melasma is a skin disorder that causes brown or gray patches to develop on the face, most commonly on the cheeks, nose, forehead, chin and upper lip, and sometimes on other sun-exposed areas like the arms.
While these patches don’t cause physical pain or discomfort, many people with melasma are distressed by the appearance of their skin. If you or someone you love suffers from the condition, it is a good idea to know the common causes and how it can be treated.
Melasma is closely associated with both sun exposure and hormones. It’s much more common in women, who represent 90 percent of cases. The condition is more common among women with darker skin, including those of Latin/Hispanic, North African, African American, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean descent, as well as those who have a family history of melasma.
Specifically, melasma occurs when the color-making cells in the skin (melanocytes) produce too much color, leading to darkening and discoloration. This imbalance can be triggered by the sun’s UV rays and by cosmetics that irritate the skin, as well as by hormone imbalance.
In fact, melasma is often called the mask of pregnancy because of how frequently it develops among women who are expecting. Birth control pills and other hormonal medications can also trigger the condition.
If you think you have melasma, our board-certified dermatologist may be able to diagnose the condition just by looking at your skin. However, he may take a biopsy, or skin sample, to rule out similar conditions.
If you have it, removing the trigger can help resolve the symptoms. For example, delivering your baby or discontinuing birth control pills usually stop it from occurring. If the condition is triggered by sun exposure, protecting yourself from the sun can help reduce the instance of flare-ups.
People with chronic melasma may benefit from certain prescription medications to even the skin tone and lighten any dark spots. Other people can also benefit from other dermatological procedures, including microneedling, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion.
While melasma can be stubborn, take heart; the Center for Dermatology in Lawrenceville is here to help. By sticking to the regimen recommended by our dermatologist, symptoms typically resolve with time. Taking preventive steps, such as wearing a wide-brimmed hat and applying sunscreen when out in the sun, can help speed your recovery from this skin condition.
Contact our office today to schedule your appointment and begin your journey to relieving your melasma symptoms.