Who Can Develop Melasma?
Though men can and do experience melasma, this skin condition is most commonly seen in women.
Often appearing around the face and on other areas that get a lot of sun exposure, melasma can also develop as a result of hormonal changes. Pregnancy and ceasing birth control, for example, can often cause women to develop melasma.
Sun damage is often a cause of melasma as well, which is commonly the reason that men develop this condition as well.
Types of Melasma
There are several types of melasma, each affecting different areas of the body. Since this condition typically affects facial skin, diagnosing melasma is based on the area it is affecting.
Centrofacial Melasma refers to discoloration that occurs around the center of the face. This is the most commonly diagnosed type of melasma since it appears across the forehead, nose, and upper lip and nowhere else.
Malar Melasma is the type of melasma where discoloration is restricted to the cheeks and nowhere else.
Mandibular Melasma refers to discoloration that only occurs along the jawline and chin.
“The Mask of Pregnancy” is a type of melasma commonly seen in pregnant women. In fact, it occurs in over 50% of pregnant women as a result of the fluctuations in their hormones. Like others diagnosed with melasma, pregnant women commonly develop discoloration on their face.
What Causes Melasma?
Overwhelmingly, sun exposure is the cause of melasma. For the same reason we develop a tan after being out in the sun, melasma is caused by the skin’s melanocytes producing excess melanin. Like other types of hyperpigmentation, melasma worsens and becomes darker with additional sun exposure.
Hormonal changes from pregnancy, birth control, and other conditions can also contribute to melasma developing. This is why women are more likely to develop melasma than men.
Interestingly, any type of visible light can contribute to the development of melasma. This includes the light from computer screens and the lamp in your office! Exposure to heat can also contribute to melasma, so it is important to reduce your use of hair dryers, heating lamps, and heating pads.
Another cause of melasma that many people overlook has nothing to do with light or hormones at all. In some cases, melasma can actually be caused by scented deodorant, soaps, toiletries, cosmetics, and perfumes! Melasma from these products is caused by what is known as a phototoxic reaction.
Treatment Options for Melasma
To best prevent and treat melasma, make sure that you are using a daily sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 30 or higher. Regardless of your skin tone, or the time of year, it is important to use a sunscreen daily to try and prevent discoloration and cancer from developing.
People who have been diagnosed with melasma should also consider using alternative birth control methods and different types of skin products to try and avoid worsening discoloration in their skin.
Most popularly, melasma is treated with a topical bleaching cream that consists of hydroquinone, a mild corticosteroid, and a retinoid. Those who are undergoing this type of treatment should only do so under the supervision of a professional.
At Vibrant Dermatology, we are proud to offer cutting edge laser treatments, such as the Aerolase laser, to drastically improve the appearance of melasma. We also offer customized chemical peels and other skin care products help keep melasma under control.
Leave your skincare to the experts. Melasma is a frustrating skin condition that is a cosmetic concern for many men and women, but it may also point to other medical conditions that require expert treatment. If you would like to experience premier dermatological care to achieve beautiful and healthy skin, please schedule your appointment with Dr. Ip today.