Dealing with Melasma

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Dealing with Melasma

Melasma, literally meaning dark skin, is most commonly known as the “mask of pregnancy,” an area of hyperpigmentation that shows up across the face of more than half of all pregnant women. But you don’t even have to be pregnant (or female) to develop this skin condition. Increased estrogen (from pregnancy, birth control pills, estrogen supplements or other hormone sensitivities) trigger pigment producing cells called melanocytes to produce too much melanin, resulting in patchy skin discolorations.

If you develop melasma for whatever reason, the first thing to know is that it is very common and it is completely harmless. Six million U.S. women are affected by the condition, which although not physically harmful can be distressing and embarrassing. So how do you treat it? There are both prescription and over the counter options.

Some of the most common ingredients used to lighten or “bleach” the skin affected by melasma or other discolorations include hydroquinone, kojic acid, glycolic acid, vitamin A/retinol/tretinoin, azelaic acid, ascorbic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, steroids and sunscreens. A treatment containing hydroquinone above 2%, or tretinoin or azelaic acid over 20% is automatically placed into the prescription category. Since melasma is primarily a cosmetic concern, many insurance companies will not cover this therapy; so if cost is an issue, you may want to consider an over-the-counter lightening treatment.

Exfoliation is another important tool in speeding up the resolution of melasma. It helps remove superficial pigmented skin cells and increases penetration of bleaching agents. Exfoliation can be mechanical (i.e. microdermabrasion) or chemical, with the use of peels. Try to use gentle methods as too much irritation could increase pigmentation. DERMAdoctor Physical Chemistry facial microdermabrasion + multiacid chemical peel combines both physical and manual exfoliation in one easy method, providing a complete, thorough, medically effective exfoliation.

Probably the most important bit of advice you can follow when trying to get rid of your melasma is to avoid sun exposure whenever possible and always wear a broad spectrum sunscreen when you are exposed.

Amy Burger
DERMAdoctor Staff Writer

This content is sponsored by DERMAdoctor. The author receives compensation for its creation. All content is the legal copyright of DERMAdoctor, Inc, and it may not be used, reprinted, or published without written consent.

The information provided is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended to provide medical, legal or other professional advice.

This post was posted in Articles, Discoloration and was tagged with melasma, hydroquinone, brightener, glycolic acid, microdermabrasion, retinoids

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