Melasma is a common skin condition in which there are patches of brown or grey color present in a symmetric pattern. Typically, the affected areas are the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead or around the mouth and chin. Melasma can occur in anyone, but is much more frequently found among women, especially women who are pregnant when it is called chloasma, and is sometimes referred to as the “pregnancy mask.” Although not a painful or dangerous problem, melasma can be very distressing emotionally because of its alteration of the appearance. Melasma is not always a permanent condition. It may disappear in a woman several months after she gives birth, but may reoccur after unprotected exposure to the sun.
Risk Factors For Melasma
While the precise cause of melasma is unknown, certain individuals have a genetic predisposition to developing this condition and it more frequently occurs in people with skin type 3-6. There is also a clear correlation between female hormones and melasma, since not only are pregnant women more susceptible, but so are women on birth control or hormone replacement therapy. Sun exposure, exposure to Ultraviolet, visible and infrared light, heat makes the development of melasma more likely, so women in tropical climates are more prone to the condition.
Diagnosis Of Melasma
Melasma is usually diagnosed through a simple physical examination of the skin. A Wood’s lamp, which uses ultraviolet light, is used to highlight skin discolorations and direct the course of treatment. Dermascopy is also used to identify if the pigementation is epidermal or dermal or both.
Treatment For Melasma
Sometimes patients may achieve symptom relief if they stop taking estrogen and progesterone, the hormones linked to the disorder. Other treatments for melasma may include:
- Physical Sunscreens containing Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide and Iron Oxides*
- Chemical peels
- Non Fractional Laser
- Qswitched Picosecond NdYag laser
- Topical Skin Lightening Agents*