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Melasma: What it is and How to Treat It

This is also known as “Choasma faciei”, Melasma is the cosmetic discoloration of skin. There are no other symptoms beyond tan or darkened patches of skin. This is particularly common in pregnant women and people who have used oral or patch-based contraceptives. HRT or hormone replacement therapy medications can also cause Melasma.

Symptoms

This skin disorder is characterized by irregular patches of darkened layers of skin. Although they have no harmful effects other than discoloration of the skin, they often develop slowly over a period of time.

Diagnosis is conducted using Wood’s amp using a 340 to 400 nm wavelength to illuminate the dermis, giving the medical practioner a distinguishable look as Melasma’s cause of excess melanin will be laid out clearly from that of the dermis.

These discolorations are thought to be stimulations of cells that produce pigments; essentially setting them in high gear due to the sudden increase of estrogen and progesterone when exposed to the sun. Commonly, women who live in regions of the world with a high exposure to the sun have the possibility of having Melasma. This type of skin disorder tends to be inherited genetically.

Melasma has also known to be complications to people who suffer thyroid disease. Since it’s essentially a gland that regulates the hormone production in their system and melasma can be attributed to the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your system, it is no wonder that thyroid disease can lead to melasma.

Treatment

Since melasma is attributed to factors of melanocyte-stimulating hormones, this type of skin disorder will go away in time after a woman’s pregnancy or when one stops taking hormone replacement therapy and/or oral contraceptives.

The following are known treatments for skin discoloration.

  • Hydroquinone or HQ, a chemical that inhibits a melanin producing enzyme, tyrosinase.  HQ is also known to be a tropical depigmenting agent.
  • Laser treatment. This particular treatment is only effective on epidermal melasma, meaning it can only go deep enough as its outer later to remove the excess melanine in your system. anything deeper than that calls for products that have mandelic  acid or a Fraxel laser in order to lighten or remove it completely.
  • 20 % Azelaic acid reduces melanocyte activity.
  • Tretinoin is an acid that makes the skin cell turnover rate increase, this type of treatment cannot be used on a pregnant woman due to its use of sensitive chemicals that could potentially harm or cause problems during pregnancy because it modifies the activity of melanine production within your system by lowering female sex hormones within their system.
  • Galvanic facials and/ or Ultrasound facials with topical crème or gel used as a combination. These are particularly effective since they even out your skin tone while dampening its exposure to the sun. Less sun means less scenarios of your being affected by melanoctye-stimulation.

During any of these treatments, there is always the rule of avoiding sunlight because when exposed to visible light, UV-A and UV-B pigment production is stimulated. Favored over the ones with only chemical blockers in them, using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with physical blockers (titanium dioxide and zinc dioxide) offers more protection.

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