What is Melasma/Hyperpigmentation?
Melasma, a condition in which brown or grayish patches appear on the skin, is a very common skin condition. Most people get the hyperpigmented spots on their cheeks, bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, and above their upper lip. Melasma can also appear on other areas of the body that are frequently exposed to sun, such as the arms and neck.
What causes Melasma/Hyperpigmentation?
Many different factors contribute to melasma, but sun exposure and hormonal changes are two most common triggers. Women are much more susceptible to have melasma, especially during pregnancy due to all the hormone changes taking effect. In fact, it is so common during pregnancy that it is often called the “pregnancy mask”. Birth control pills can also contribute to melasma, as they cause hormonal changes within the body. Most people with melasma have a history of sun exposure, although heat alone is also suspected to be an underlying trigger/factor. People with olive or darker skin, like Hispanic, Asian, and Middle Eastern individuals, have a higher incidence of melasma.
How can I treat Melasma/Hyperpigmentation?
The most important treatment for melasma is the use of sunscreen to prevent further darkening of the pigmented areas. Hydroquinone and other lightening agents are very popular and effective for treating melasma. They work by decreasing the production of melanin in the skin, which helps to fade the darker spots without lightening the normal skin. Retinoids are also effective in combination with topical lightening agents, as they help to exfoliate the surface of the skin. There are also many in office treatments patients can take advantage of. Microdermabrasion, dermaplaning, and chemical peels help to increase cell turnover and can help lighten the pigmented areas on the surface of the skin. Certain lasers, such as the Clear and Brilliant Permea, are also used to treat hyperpigmentation.