Skin discoloration is a common skin problem that many people are struggling with. There are many conditions that may cause skin discoloration and one of these is melasma. Melasma, also called chloasma in pregnant women, is characterized by brownish or grayish patches on the skin. With melasma, the hyperpigmentation can usually be found on the face, neck, or arms.
Melasma doesn’t appear overnight. Most of the time, the patches grow and develop over time. If you have melasma, the brown patches on your skin are caused by stimulation of melanocytes in that area. These melanocytes are the cells producing melanin in your skin. The more melanin you have in your skin, the darker it is.
The question is why causes the melanocytes in these patches to be stimulated and to produce more melanin than the surrounding area? The exact cause is not known, but there are certain factors that may increase your risk of these happening.
One such factor that may make you susceptible to melasma is sun exposure. Hence, applying sunscreen and using a hat when outside or minimizing exposure to sunlight, may help lower your risk of developing melasma.
Another potential trigger for melasma is a change in hormones. This is why a lot of pregnant women develop hyperpigmentation, thanks to the surge of hormones before and after pregnancy. When melasma appears during pregnancy, it is often referred to as chloasma or the mask of pregnancy. Some women also develop melasma while using birth control pills or hormone replacement medication – both of which result to altering hormone levels in the body which may trigger melasma.
Aside from these, there are evidences that people with thyroid disease may have higher risk for melasma. Adverse or allergic reactions to cosmetics and medications may also trigger melasma.
Anyone suffering from hyperpigmentation would want to know how to get rid of melasma. There are quite a few options when it comes to melasma treatment and sometimes a combination of different treatments may be needed.
Any melasma treatment will have lower efficacy if the factor triggering the melasma continues to be present. For some pregnant women, the hyperpigmentation may resolve itself after pregnancy when the hormones have subsided. If the melasma is triggered by excessive sun exposure, minimizing exposure to sunlight by various means may help the brown patches fade over time.
Among the common melasma treatments are laser therapy, chemical peels, hydroquinone cream, microdermabrasion, cysteamine cream, tretinoin cream, azelaic acid, and tranexamic acid. An example of a combination treatment plan may be a chemical peel, cysteamine cream, and strict avoidance of sunlight. Many other combinations are possible and the right combination may differ from one person to another. Sometimes, it may take a few trial and error before finding one that will be most effective in treating your melasma.
Aside from strict avoidance of sunlight, a lot of people who suffer from melasma often use makeup or cosmetics to cover their brown patches. Once you’ve noticed improvement in your melasma which means fading of the brown patches, it is important to continue with the preventive measures to lower the risk of a recurrence.