Melasma: What Is It?
Melasma is a skin condition that presents as hyperpigmentation (brown to grey-brown patches) on the face and neck and is most commonly seen in women. Melasma is generally brought on during hormonal changes such as taking birth control pills or during pregnancy, dubbing the name “the mask of pregnancy.” Although melasma is not harmful, many people dislike the appearance of melasma and seek treatment to make it less noticeable.
How to Prevent Melasma
Disclaimer: Some people are genetically predisposed to melasma and may experience hyperpigmentation regardless of the preventative steps.
Below are the following steps we recommend to prevent and even maintain your melasma.
- Wear sunscreen DAILY! One of the most common treatments for melasma is sun protection. Why? Because sunlight actually triggers melasma. To get the full run-down on which type of sunscreen to use, read our blog, How to Pick the Best Sunscreen.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat while outside and find shady spots in addition to applying sunscreen.
- Avoid waxing– waxing may cause inflammation which can actually worsen melasma.
- Use a retinoid– Retinoids can be used as prevention and treatment for active melasma and is an overall anti-aging cream that should be used by everyone. Retinoids are made from an acidic form of Vitamin A and can effectively lighten skin through exfoliation and speeding up the cell turnover.
How to Treat Melasma
If you have active melasma, there are treatments that can help effectively treat this condition. Optimal results are obtained by coupling the steps of prevention as well as using procedures to help lighten the pigment.
- Hydroquinone Creams– Hydroquinone is a highly effective compound that can be used to lighten large areas of skin. Although available over-the-counter, hydroquinone is most effective in a prescription strength which you can get from your physician. In our office, we offer a compounded cream complete with: hydroquinone, kojic acid, glycolic acid, and tretinoin- all which contain effective skin-lightening results.
- Chemical Peels– Chemical peels can be effective at lightening the skin as they remove the top layers of skin which are highly pigmented or discolored.
- Microneedling– although fairly new, Microneedling has found its way in effectively treating melasma when coupled with hydroquinone and other lightening ingredients. Microneedling creates tiny channels into the skin level where pigment resides and makes the skin more receptive to the creams that will be applied at home. Treating this pigment is not a one and done treatment, as optimal results are seen with a series of Microneedling treatments spaced 4-6 weeks apart.
- Meluma MD Peel (our newest and favorite)- Our in-office peel is highly concentrated with hydroquinone, retinoic acid, ascorbic acid, and kojic acid and applied after a Microneedling treatment. This gel mask is applied and left to sit for three hours. Take-home products are specifically formulated for post-treatment skin to enhance in-office peel benefits.
Although frustrating for both the physicians and patients who are working hard to treat melasma, melasma can successfully be treated. It is important to note, that the patients who are prone to melasma and hyperpigmentation will be susceptible to reoccurrence which is why we stress the importance of the prevention steps. Melasma tends to worsen in the summer months and becomes less noticeable during the winter months. However, a combination of year-round daily care and maintenance treatments can provide vast improvement with this stubborn condition.