Melasma is a common patchy brown, tan, or blue-gray facial skin discoloration, usually seen on the upper cheeks, upper lip, forehead, and chin of women during the reproductive years of 20-50. Although it is possible for men to have melasma, statistics show that the vast majority are women.
The condition is most common among women of Latin, Asian, and Middle Eastern descent. The dermatologists at MetroDerm, P.C. Atlanta, GA, can diagnose and treat melasma using a variety of approaches including topicals and lasers.
Causes of Melasma
- Sun exposure: The discoloration associated with the condition occurs wherever the skin has been exposed to sunlight for an extended period of time causing overactive melanocytes. These cells produce melanin, a natural pigment that gives skin its color. To prevent damage or to stop the condition from becoming worse, you should wear a hat to shade the face and use a broad spectrum sunscreen to protect against UVA and UVB rays.
- Pregnancy: When melasma occurs during pregnancy, it is also called chloasma, or “the mask of pregnancy.” Experts believe that the pregnancy-related version of the condition is caused by increased levels of progesterone and not due to estrogen and MSH.
- Hormonal causes: Birth Control pills are a major contributor to the condition. Dermatologists agree that it is difficult to treat melasma when a patient is using birth control pills – it will not go away.
- Menopause: Postmenopausal women who receive progesterone hormone replacement therapy are likely to develop melasma; however, postmenopausal women receiving only estrogen are less likely to develop the condition.
Although not all cases require intervention, many patients seek treatment because the discoloration is bothersome. The skincare experts at MetroDerm, P.C. use a variety of techniques to correct the condition and eliminate discoloration. Because each patient’s needs are unique, treatment will vary depending on severity. A MetroDerm, P.C. dermatologist work with you to meet your skin care goals. Treatment options may include the following:
- Topical therapy
- Laser therapy
- Chemical peels
- Skin care: Choose skin care products that don’t sting or burn, as products that irritate the skin may worsen melasma.
- Avoid waxing: Waxing may cause skin inflammation which can worsen melasma, so it’s important to avoid waxing areas of the body affected by the condition.
- Cover up: Wear a hat
- Protect: Use a broad spectrum sunscreen
Please remember that the information in this article cannot take the place of a consultation with a medical professional. Each patient is unique; therefore, results of treatment may vary.
Melasma is a common condition that does not require treatment; however, if you are tired of dark spots on your face, there are highly effective treatments available. Let the dermatologists at MetroDerm, P.C. help you determine which treatment option would be best for you. Call to schedule an appointment at one of our three office locations located in Atlanta, Hiram, and Lilburn.