Melasma: What is it and how to treat it?

If you think you have melasma, see your doctor for a proper diagnosis, but before you click the Whatsapp button here below to have an appointment with our patient care coordinator, this blog can’t be skipped if you are a beauty junkie. First things first: Hyperpigmentation is a broad term that refers to a skin condition in which the skin is discolored or darkened due to an array of factors, including sun damage, acne scarring, and inflammation lingering from an eczema flare-up. So what is melasma?

Melasma is a common skin disorder. Loosely translated, the word means “black spot.” If you have melasma you’re probably experiencing light brown, dark brown, and/or blue-gray patches on your skin. They can appear as flat patches or freckle-like spots. Commonly affected areas include your face, including the cheeks, upper lip, and forehead, as well as the forearms. Melasma is sometimes called the “mask of pregnancy” because it frequently affects pregnant women.

Melasma appears most commonly on your cheeks, nose, chin, above the upper lip, and the forehead. It sometimes affects your arms, neck, and back. In fact, melasma can affect any part of your skin that is exposed to sunlight. That’s why most people with melasma notice that their symptoms worsen during the summer months. Melasma is a very common skin disorder, especially among pregnant women. 15% to 50% of pregnant women get it. Between 1.5% and 33% of the population may get melasma and it happens more often during a woman’s reproductive years, and rarely happens during puberty. It usually starts between 20 and 40 years of age.

There are three types of melasma and they have to do with the depth of the pigment. A Wood lamp that emits black light may be used to determine the depth of the pigment. The three types are:

  • Epidermal: Epidermal melasma has a dark brown color, a well-defined border, appears obvious under black light, and sometimes responds well to treatment.
  • Dermal: Dermal melasma has a light brown or bluish color, a blurry border, appears no differently under black light, and doesn’t respond well to treatment.
  • Mixed melasma: Mixed melasma, which is the most common of the three, has both bluish and brown patches, shows a mixed pattern under blacklight, and shows some response to treatment.

There are two main causes of melasma: radiation, whether ultraviolet, visible light or infrared (heat) light; and hormones. Ultraviolet and infrared radiation from the sun is key in making melasma worse. Other possible causes of melasma include:

  • Antiseizure medications: Drugs that prevent you from having seizures may be a cause of melasma.
  • Contraceptive therapy (birth control): Melasma has been observed in individuals who use oral contraceptive pills that contain estrogen and progesterone.
  • Estrogen/Diethylstilbestrol: Diethylstilbestrol is a synthetic (man-made) form of the hormone estrogen. It’s often used in treatments for prostate cancer. Again, there’s a pattern between increased estrogen and melasma.
  • Genetics: About 33% to 50% of people with melasma have reported that someone else in the family has it. The majority of identical twins both have melasma.
  • Hypothyroidism: A condition where your thyroid is underactive.
  • LED Screens: Melasma may be caused by the LED lights from your television, laptop, cell phone, and tablet.
  • Pregnancy: It is unclear why “the mask of pregnancy” happens to pregnant women. However, experts theorize that the increased levels of estrogen, progesterone, and melanocyte-stimulating hormones during the third trimester of pregnancy play a role.
  • Hormones: Hormones like estrogen and progesterone may play a role in some people. Postmenopausal women are sometimes given progesterone and have been observed developing melasma. If you aren’t pregnant, you likely have elevated levels of estrogen receptors found in your melasma lesions.
  • Makeup (cosmetics): Some cosmetics can cause what’s called a phototoxic reaction.
  • Phototoxic drugs (medicines that make you sensitive to sunlight): These include some antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), diuretics, retinoids, hypoglycaemics, antipsychotics, targeted therapies, and some other drugs.
  • Skincare products: A product that irritates your skin, in general, will likely make your melasma worse.
  • Soaps: Some scented soaps are thought to cause or worse melasma.
  • Tanning beds: The UV light produced by tanning beds damages your skin just as bad as the UV light from the sun, and sometimes worse.

Melasma is a very challenging condition to treat and manage. At Lumina Aesthetics, we have helped many patients improve their melasma and maintain their healthier skin. We highly recommend laser treatment to treat melasma. Lasers are generally considered for people seeking long-term and quick results when other options, like lightening creams, have not been effective.

A patient may require a laser that can deeply penetrate into the dermis.

No one wants to spend extra time and effort covering up the unwanted pigment in their skin. Successfully diminishing any discoloration to reveal a brighter, more even tone is possible with professional dermatological treatments. Lumina Aesthetics offers a variety of successful ways to ease melasma. Whether the discoloration is on the nose, forehead, cheeks, chest, hands, or anywhere else on the body, there are several options that are both safe and effective.

Depending on the skin type and severity of the hyperpigmentation, Lumina’s doctor may suggest one or a combination of treatments. These include a skin lightening compound like a chemical peel, a laser treatment, or an IPL PhotoFacial.

Many patients who come in to see Lumina’s doctor for their melasma have tried over-the-counter products but just aren’t seeing the results they desire. We are proud to offer melasma treatments using the laser system to reduce hyperpigmentation at its source and restore each patient’s natural skin tone and texture. Lumina Skin Rejuvenation Laser works by using non-ablative lasers to treat hyperpigmentation at its source, breaking up your unwanted discoloration without having to undergo the lengthy downtime and recovery period of traditional laser systems.

What are the Benefits of Laser Melasma Treatment at Lumina Aesthetics?

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There are many benefits to receiving laser melasma treatments, including:

  • Minimally invasive cosmetic treatment
  • No anesthesia, cutting, or scarring
  • Quick and easy treatments
  • Perfect for all skin tones and types
  • Treats melasma at its source
  • Smooths away fine lines and wrinkles
  • Shrinks enlarged pores
  • No downtime or recovery period

Melasma is sometimes difficult to treat, but Lumina’s doctor dedicates significant time and resources to developing a personalized treatment plan for each of our melasma patients.

For those who have been dealing with recurring issues, Lumina Aesthetics can help. The doctor at Lumina Aesthetics can meet with patients to explore the best treatment for melasma on the face and other ways to address these problems.

We are available to discuss treatment options for melasma and other skin issues. To schedule a treatment consultation with Lumina’s Doctor, please call us today at +6281228888837 or email us at [email protected].


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