Melasma Or Hyperpigmentation – Signs, Symptoms And Treatment Options
By Stefanie Gold, PA-C, Natura Dermatology & Cosmetics – Fort Lauderdale
Melasma, also known as cholasma or the “mask of pregnancy” is a form of hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin. This condition is usually acquired and may result from pregnancy, oral contraceptive use, or menopause, or it may arise for no apparent reason. It most commonly occurs in woman during their reproductive years and rarely occurs before puberty. Only about 10% of melasma patients are male, and the explanation for this condition is unknown. People with darker skin, such as those of Latin/Hispanic, North African, African-American, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean descent are more likely to get melasma. Having a family history also increases the likelihood of developing the condition.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Melasma, although benign can become a great cosmetic concern to many patients. It typically presents as brown to gray-brown patches on the face, most commonly on the cheeks, forehead, bridge of nose, above the upper lip, and chin. During pregnancy, the darkening of the skin often occurs in the second and third trimesters and spontaneously fades after termination of pregnancy. It has also been known to affect woman on oral contraceptives; either fading after the discontinuation of the drug or persisting indefinitely.
What causes Melasma?
Although we are not quite sure what causes melasma, we do know of some common triggers.
- Sun exposure: Ultraviolet light stimulates the skin cells that make pigment causing them to produce more of it. Just a small amount of sun exposure can make melasma return after fading. This is why this condition often manifests in the summer and people get it again and again.
- Hormones: There are three types of hormone changes that typically cause melasma- pregnancy, birth control pills, and hormone replacement medicine. When melasma appears during pregnancy, it is called cholasma, or the maks of pregnancy.
- Cosmetics: Skin care products that irritate the skin may worsen melasma.
What is the treatment:
Management of melasma involves a combination approach using one or more bleaching products and cosmetic camouflage. In addition, behavioral changes, including sun avoidance and use of sunscreen are essential!
- Bleaching agents, including hydroquinone, are usually the first-line approach to treatment of this condition. These agents can be found over-the-counter at lower percentages or by prescription at higher percentages.
- To enhance skin lightening, tretinoin and corticosteroids may also be prescribed as a second-line treatment.
- In combination with bleaching agents and/ or other topical medications, there are multiple cosmetic procedures that may aid in reducing hyperpigmentation. Chemical peels, microdermabrasions, and lasers have all proven to minimize the signs of this condition.
Here at Natura Dermatology and Cosmetics we offer an array of treatment options for patients with melasma. Our effective dual-action Natura Sciences MD ColorLift is a unique formulation of 2% Kojic acid and 2% hydroquinone used to lighten and erase pigmented blemishes. Other ingredients to achieve spot removal include salicylic acid, green tea, evodia extract, and rumex. Applied twice daily, these brown spots will slowly fade away before your eyes.
We also offer multiple cosmetic treatments to be done in combination with topical treatments. The VI chemical peel is the newest peel out performed to reverse the effects of sun damage and hyperpigmentation while improving the tone, texture, and clarity of the skin. It will help to reduce or eliminate age spots, freckles, and hyperpigmentation, reduce the appearance of pore size, soften fine lines and wrinkles, stimulate the production of collagen, and clear acne skin conditions. This medium-depth chemical peel is safe for all skin tones, is nearly painless, and takes approximately 20 minutes to do.
Along with chemical peels and microdermabrasions, our Syneron Intense Pulse Light uses advanced light therapy techniques to revitalize your skin and even skin tone. The treatment is quick, non-invasive and you’ll have zero downtime (although the skin may be a bit pink for a few hours post-treatment).
Founded in 2006, Natura Dermatology & Cosmetics is wholly owned by Will Richardson, MD FAAD one of Fort Lauderdale’s premiere skin cancer dermatologists. We offer Mohs Skin Cancer Surgery, skin checks, mole and leg vein removal along with age defying treatments like Allumera, Ultherapy, Natura Sciences MD, Botox Cosmetic, Juvederm, Restylane, and Radiesse. We offer appointments at two convenient locations – Fort Lauderdale and Coconut Creek. Our friendly appointment schedulers are available Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm by calling 954.537.4106.