A very common and frustrating condition that many women (and few men) struggle with is the condition called melasma. Although certain skin types and ethnicity are more prone to melasma, this condition affects a significant number of women across the board. There is no specific test to determine if a patient has melasma. A diagnosis or treatment plan is based upon patient’s history and symptoms.
Melasma is a skin disorder of hyperpigmentation. This means that the body creates this pigmentation (melanocytes) in response to hormonal changes such as with pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives, and perimenopause. Even in the absence of these situations, many women will still struggle with melasma. In fact, current research reports that common triggers (factors that exacerbate or provoke melasma) are heat, humidity, and UV exposure. It is because of these factors that melasma is a challenging and non-curable condition.
Melasma often presents as variations of brown pigmentation (color) on various areas of the body but is most often found on the face. This pigmentation usually has a distinct appearance in that it appears as patches on the skin with common areas being the forehead, both cheeks (symmetrical pattern), and upper lip. The discoloration may appear within days or become gradually worse.
Although there is no “cure” for melasma, there are viable options to improve and manage this chronic condition. Some practitioners will utilize microdermabrasion, chemical peels, lasers, topical skin care products, or a combination of all of these. Unfortunately, many of these treatments are not based upon the most current research or tailored to the patient’s needs, expectations, budget, and lifestyle. For example, although lasers may offer initial improvement, most studies reveal that all, if any, improvement achieved will be lost after six months. More concerning is that the majority of melasma patients report a worsening of their condition following laser or light-based treatments which is consistent with what we know about how this condition reacts to heat and light.
At Celibre, we base our services on those that are science-based, tried and true, and have passed our own in-house trials. We also believe in setting realistic expectations as well as educating our patients and consumers on how to tightly manage their condition.
– If using oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy, discuss with your physician the possibility of using the lowest dose appropriate.
– Use daily sunscreen that offers UVA/UVB protection with a minimum of SPF 30. Do not rely on sunscreen only found in your make up or moisturizer.
– Use sunscreen even on cloudy or rainy days *Re-apply sunscreen every two hours when outside for extended periods of time. *Consider wearing sunglasses and a hat while outside.