A number of people are affected with a skin condition known as melasma. Characterized by brown patches of skin on the face, it more often affects women than men. Discolored patches can occur on the cheeks, upper lip or chin; however, the forehead is the most common area where they appear.
Many times, these patches are visible during pregnancy, or the hormonal changes associated with menopause; using birth control pills can also result in flare-ups. When it appears during pregnancy, it is known as the “mask of pregnancy”, and usually subsides shortly after a woman gives birth.
The actual cause of melasma is unknown; however, sun exposure is thought to play a part in its development. Asian and Caucasian women are more likely to develop this condition than those of other races. People who are taking anti-seizure drugs or certain medications that make them sensitive to sunlight could also be affected. Most individuals who contract melasma do so between the ages of 20 and 50.
While melasma is not dangerous, it can nonetheless affect the lives of those who suffer from it. Patients could feel the need to avoid the sun in order to prevent their condition from becoming worse. They could also feel self-conscious about this condition, and avoid going out in public because of it. This is especially true since makeup does not usually disguise melasma, and it is most often located on noticeable areas of the face.
No special tests are needed to diagnose melasma, as its presence can easily be determined simply by looking at the skin. Even so, it can be difficult to tell exactly how deeply it has penetrated the skin, which is why a dermatologist may look at your face with an instrument known as a Wood’s light. Doing so will enable the physician to determine the best course of action to take in order to eliminate it. Treatment is not normally recommended for pregnant women, since many of the common ones could cause harm to the fetus.
The first step in treating this condition is usually to prescribe a topical ointment. Some common ones that are prescribed include hydroquinone, tretinoin, or any one of a number of corticosteroids. These medicines are normally applied two to three times a day in order to lighten the skin and help it achieve a more natural appearance.
When topical ointments do not provide the desired results, the next step could be to undergo a chemical peel or rarely laser. These procedures can not only provide a more even skin tone, but can also help to exfoliate and brighten the facial area as well. Depending on the severity of your melasma, more than one session could be required in order to remove it. To get started treating this skin disorder, contact us today.