“What is it?”
That seems to be the most common response we get. Surprisingly enough, many women with Melasma have never heard of the condition, despite it being extremely common, affecting an estimated 6 million American women. Hence the reason for today’s blog post!
Melasma presents as symmetric hyperpigmentation (light grey to dark brown blotchy spots) occurring 80% of the time on the face. Melasma occurs when melanocytes, the pigment-producing skin cells, become hyperactive and produce too much pigment in a certain area of the face in response to a particular trigger.
“What are the triggers and am I at risk?”
Unfortunately, it can affect women at all stages of life. It doesn’t pose any health risks, but can be emotionally distressing for many as it can be stubborn to treat.
To better understand how to treat Melasma, let’s review some of the risk factors:
- Dark or olive skin color, particularly those of Latin, Middle Eastern, and Asian descent
- Family history
- Hormonal fluctuations (e.g. pregnancy, birth control pills, etc)
- Sun/UV exposure/Heat/Visible light – the #1 risk factor!
“Help! I’ve got melasma, now what?”
The first step to treating Melasma is to identify what is triggering it. Your healthcare provider should be able to help you determine underlying triggers upon a thorough medical history. Once you have identified what is the cause, you can better manage your symptoms and prevent worsening hyperpigmentation.
Next step, and perhaps the most important of all, you must avoid sun exposure! UV light is the biggest aggravator for Melasma patients! Daily sunscreen/sun protection is absolutely necessary! The type of sunscreen used is also important.
A physical block sunscreen, such as zinc or titanium oxide, should be used to protect from the light, heat, and various UV wavelengths emitted by the sun.
“Sun protection, got it! Anything else I can do to help my melasma?”
Yes! Let’s review some of the most popular treatments.
Topical bleaching agents such as hydroquinone creams, work by blocking melanin production, but must be used under your healthcare provider’s supervision. Other lightening creams that contain any combination of the following active ingredients also work well to improve Melasma: niacinamide, glutathione, kojic acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid, and ascorbic acid (Vit C).
Adding a retinoid cream to your daily evening skincare routine will help tremendously. Retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives that increase skin cell turnover, which helps to reduce unwanted skin pigment. If used in conjunction with a skin lightening cream, the reduction in Melasma pigment is amazing!
In addition to topical therapy, a series of chemical peel treatments is a wonderful option. A chemical peel containing glycolic acid is a great example of a skin resurfacing option to improve skin cell turnover, removing dark pigment.
Furthermore, one of the most effective therapies for Melasma is laser skin resurfacing treatments. It is important to note that you should consult with trained professionals who have experiencing treating Melasma with laser resurfacing.
“Ok, I’m ready to start treating my melasma!”
Great! Call the office (253) 218-6642 and schedule a complimentary consultation with myself and our fabulous Master Esthetician, Annette. We can help guide you through the different treatment options available. We have the top of the line lasers, that are safe and effective for treating Melasma pigment. We also offer medical grade skin care products, and chemical peels. We would be thrilled to help you get rid of your Melasma, and bring out the “Luma-nous” skin you deserve!