Melasma is not a dangerous or harmful condition, but many find it cosmetically displeasing. It is the occurrence of hyperpigmentation, similar to freckles, but larger and patchier in appearance. Melasma results from high concentrations of melanin in the skin, which can occur for various reasons, including:
- -Genetic predisposition
- -Hormone fluctuation (especially involving estrogen and progesterone)
- -Birth control pills
In addition, exposure to UV rays can exacerbate any of the above causes. Women comprise 90% of all cases of melasma and pregnancy is usually the catalyst. Furthermore, it has a higher rate of occurrence in women of brown skin pigmentation.
How To Get Rid of Melasma
There are a few different treatments for this skin condition, starting with preventative measures. It is important—especially if you have a family history of melasma or you are pregnant, or both—to always wear an SPF 30+ sunscreen when exposed to the sun. Once melasma has already become apparent, forms of treatment include:
- -Hydroquinone cream: This topical medication comes in a 2% to 4% concentration and works by inhibiting the production of melanin. This is effective only for mild melasma and takes at least 3 to 4 months to show results.
- -Laser skin treatment: Monochromatic light energy breaks up the clustered melanocyte cells (melanin) into pieces that are small enough to be absorbed by the body. Many lasers may be used for this purpose, but at FineTouch Dermatology, Dr. Umar finds that the Fraxel Dual (1550nm) and the Nd:YAG Q-Switch lasers (1064nm) are both effective means for improving melasma.