Wednesday, 2 January 2019

About Melasma

Melasma is a common skin-coloring disorder among women resulting in discolored patches on the face, especially the cheeks, forehead, bridge of the nose, above the upper lip and chin. It can also be seen clearly on other parts of the body that are prone to excessive sun exposure such as the forearms and neck.

It is also called chloasma or the “mask of pregnancy” as women are more likely to suffer from it when compared to men. According to a study, a majority of the people who develop melasma are women.

The condition normally emerges in women belonging to the age group of 20-50 years. Even though it is not injurious to health, it can leave a person in embarrassment and distress.
Reasons behind it

Frequent sun exposure and hormonal events such as pregnancy and hormone treatments are the first-line factors which cause melasma. It is a kind of uncontrolled pigmentation that induces your body to replete the pigment. It is usually triggered during the summer months. Other reasons include:
  • Oral contraceptives.
  • Hormone replacement therapy.
  • Certain skin care products which prove unfavorable to a person's skin.


Treatment should not be considered first hand for melasma. If it is caused by the hormonal changes occurring during pregnancy or while taking birth control pills, it will disappear after delivery or once a person ceases taking the pills.

Unfortunately for others, melasma can continue for years or even for the rest of their lives. If it does not vanish over time, a person can consult a doctorfor further medication.
Sadly, not all treatments prove to be effective for everyone and melasma may return even after successful treatments.
Melasma can be doctored by various effective methods.

  • Wearing sunscreen every day and reapplying it every 2 hours.
  • Certain bleaching creams can be purchased with a doctor’s prescription.
  • Hydroquinone: It is sometimes associated with other chemicals (collectively called “triple cream”) to  elevate the effects which may take 6-8 weeks to show visible results.
  • Microdermabrasion: A vacuum suction clinched by an erosive material gets rid of the top layer of the skin.
  • Chemical peels: A light glycolic peel containing salicylic acid can be used. Consult a dermatologist to know about the accurate strength.
  • Lasers: Not highly recommended by dermatologists. Although it may provide temporary results, it may worsen the condition.
  • Glycolic acid creams (10-20%).
  • Kojic acid: Used in concentrations between 1-2.5%, equally effective.
  • Lactic acid lotions (12%).
  • Azelaic acid (15-20%): A non-hydroquinone cream that is safe and effective against melasma. Redness, itching and a burning sensation are some of the side effects that improve after two weeks to a month of use.
  • Retinoic acid (.025-.1%)
  • Researches and analysis are being performed on the efficiency of other relevant agents like   licorice extract, resveratrol, zinc sulphate mequinol, arbutin and deoxyarbutin (extracted from berries) amidst others.

Treatments may take several months to produce an effect irrespective of the intensity. Another important thing to note is that there are two different kinds of melasma – dermal melasma and epidermal melasma. Both are treated differently. Treatment for the latter has been observed to be more successful.

Certain treatments can give rise to skin irritation. If you undergo hydroquinone treatments above 4% for a brief time, it is probable that you might develop exogenous ochronosis, a state whereby the skin blackens and becomes faded.

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