Melasma is a disease of the skin, characterized by dark brown spots that usually appear on the forehead, cheeks, and sometimes on the upper lip of the patient although this may appear in other areas exposed such as the neck and forearms. This hyperpigmentation affects mainly adult women and appears more frequently during pregnancy and after childbirth, due to this in many countries and known as the mask of pregnancy.
The melasma is asymptomatic, it does not cause any noticeable symptoms, except the change of the skin color in the form of dark spots, typically located on the face, forehead, nose, cheeks and upper lip.
What causes melasma is not yet clear. It is believed that it is associated with an overproduction of melanin (natural pigments of the skin) by the melanocytes (pigment cells), a substance responsible for giving color to our skin.
People with colored skin are more prone to melasma because they have more active melanocytes.
90% of cases of melasma occur in women, mainly in adulthood. It is believed that the hormonal changes present during pregnancy are one of the triggers of the disease.
Another factor to consider is the exposure to ultraviolet light. in fact, a small exposure can estimate the activity of the melanocytes causing the appearance or the return of the melasma. Being its appearance much more frequent in summer. The main reason why many people with melasma get it over and over again.
Birth control pills and hormone replacement medicine can also trigger melasma.
Melasma can disappear spontaneously. This usually occurs when a trigger, such as a pregnancy or contraceptive pills, causes melasma. When a woman gives birth to her baby or stops taking contraceptive pills, the melasma may go away.
Some people, however, have melasma for years, or even all of life. If the melasma does not go away or if a woman wishes to continue taking birth control pills, there are melasma treatments available. These include:
- Hydroquinone: this medication is a first common treatment for melasma. It is applied to the skin and works by lightening the skin. You will find hydroquinone in medicine that comes in the form of cream, lotion, gel or liquid. You can get some of these without a prescription. These products contain less hydroquinone than a product that your dermatologist can prescribe. (best treatment for melasma based on hydroquinone).
- Tretinoin and corticosteroids: to improve skin clearance, your dermatologist may prescribe a second medication. This medicine can be tretinoin or a corticosteroid. Sometimes a medication contains 3 medications (hydroquinone, tretinoin, and a corticosteroid) in 1 cream. This is often called a triple cream. (best treatment for Tretinoin-based melasma).
- Demlan Cream: your dermatologist may prescribe demelan cream ( azelaic acid, arbutin and kojic acid) to clear the melasma and dark spots.
Procedures: If the medication that you apply to your skin does not remove your melasma, a procedure may be successful. Procedures for melasma include a chemical peel, microdermabrasion, dermabrasion, laser treatment or a light based procedure. Only a dermatologist should perform these procedures.