Melasma is a very common pigmentary disorder that usually affects a woman during the reproductive age, though in some cases it can affect men as well. This disorder mainly causes brown to gray-brown patches on the face, especially on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin and above the upper lip. It can also appear on forearms and neck i.e., areas that are often exposed to the sun.
The causes of this skin condition have not been fully understood. But it may be due to the excess production of melanin from the melanocyte cells on the skin. Other than these, the common triggers of Melasma are
Hormonal imbalance: Hormonal imbalance caused during pregnancy or due to the ingestion of birth control and hormone blocker medication.
Sun exposure: Melasma can be caused or worsened by exposure to the harmful sun rays, heat and visible light.
Chemicals: Exposure to certain chemicals found in sunscreens, cosmetics and other skincare products results in melasma.
Skin Inflammation: High levels of heat or harsh exfoliation from lasers cause skin inflammation to protect and repair the damaged skin, resulting in increased production of melanin that causes melasma.
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Prevention and Treatment
Melasma is caused when our skin goes in protection mode. It does not have any major side effects. The options available for the treatment of Melasma are
Use sunscreen: Use a strict sunscreen regimen. To avoid the occurrence of melasma, use a non-chemical sunblock that is rich in SPF 50 and stay away from highly polluted places.
Vitamins, Hat and Sunglasses: Dab on a few drops of serum that contains vitamins C and E to improve skin health and ward off the harmful effects of sun exposure. Use a hat and sunglasses to limit sun exposure.
Topical treatments: Your dermatologist may prescribe steroid-free topical treatments and topical skin lightening agents such as azelaic acid/kojic acid to help lighten melasma.
Medical Procedures: If the lotions and other medications do not work, a dermatologist will recommend procedures such as microdermabrasion, chemical peels, laser treatment, light therapy, etc.
Melasma is common during several trimesters of pregnancy, so there is no need to panic if you see affected dark skin on your face. Melasma and the above-discussed remedies do not cause any harm to the baby.