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pregnancy mask

Melasma is a prevalent skin pigmentation condition marked by the emergence of dark or discolored patches. Although these freckle-like spots or flat patches pose no medical harm, they can make you feel self-conscious. Typically affecting pregnant women, Melasma is often referred to as the “mask of pregnancy” or “chloasma.” Keep reading to learn the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of Melasma.

Melasma Types

Melasma is categorized based on the pigmentation’s depth. Listed below are the three common types of Melasma.

  1. Mixed Melasma: Mixed Melasma combines both epidermal and dermal types, making it the most challenging form to treat. Patches appear as a blend of well-defined brown and less-defined bluish-gray pigmentation. A comprehensive approach is often required to target the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin.
  2. Dermal Melasma: Dermal Melasma is characterized by melanin deposits in the deeper layers of the skin (dermis). As a result, the pigmentation is bluish-gray or brown and tends to be less defined than epidermal Melasma. Dermal Melasma is generally more resistant to treatment. Thus, it might require a combination of therapies for effective management.
  3. Epidermal Melasma: Epidermal Melasma, also known as superficial Melasma, is the most common type of Melasma. It occurs when excess Melanin accumulates in the top layer of the skin (epidermis). The pigmentation appears as light to dark brown patches that are well-defined and often symmetrical. These patches are usually more responsive to treatment than other Melasma types.

Melasma Causes

Affecting 15% - 50% of pregnant women and 1.5% to 33% of the global population, Melasma develops due to overproduction of Melanin in some skin areas. Given below are the triggers, factors, and causes of Melasma:

  • Complexion: Individuals with medium or olive complexion will likely suffer from Melasma.
  • Hormones: Hormonal fluctuations play a significant role in melasma development. Individuals undergoing hormone replacement therapy or pregnant women are at a higher risk.
  • Genetics: A family history of Melasma can increase one's susceptibility to the condition.
  • Sun Exposure: Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are a major trigger for Melasma. UV radiation stimulates the production of Melanin—the pigment responsible for skin, hair, and eye color. Even though Melanin absorbs UV rays to protect the skin, excessive sun exposure can result in melasma patches.

Melasma Symptoms

The hallmark symptom of Melasma is the presence of irregular patches on the skin, most commonly on the face. These patches are usually symmetrical, appearing on both sides of the face. The freckle-like patches are darker than the individual's natural skin tone and can vary in size and shape. At times, melasma patches may also appear inflamed or red. The common locations of where Melasma may appear include:

  • Centrofacial: Appears of nose, upper lip, cheeks, and forehead.
  • Brachial: Might appear on your upper arms and shoulders.
  • Mandibular: May appear on the jawline.
  • Lateral cheek pattern: This form of Melasma affects both cheeks.
  • Malar: Mau appears on your nose and cheeks.

Melasma | Diagnosis and Treatment

A dermatologist will diagnose Melasma by physically examining your skin. A dermatologist will use black light (Wood’s lamp) to see your skin’s changing color. They will also ensure that it isn’t a case of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, liver spots, age spots, or freckles.

While in most cases, melasma spots may fade over time. In others, cosmetic procedures and medications may be prescribed to treat the skin condition. Given below are the most popular melasma treatment methods:

1.      Topical Prescription Medication

Prescription creams are frequently recommended by dermatologists as a first-line treatment for Melasma. These creams often contain ingredients like hydroquinone, tretinoin, and corticosteroids. Hydroquinone is a skin-lightening agent. It works by inhibiting the production of Melanin, the pigment responsible for skin color.

Tretinoin is a vitamin A derivative. It improves cell turnover and promotes the fading of hyperpigmented areas. Corticosteroids help to reduce inflammation and suppress the production of Melanin.

2.      Laser Skin Resurfacing

Laser treatments have gained popularity for their effectiveness in treating Melasma. Fractional laser technology targets deeper layers of the skin. This stimulates collagen production and breaks down excess Melanin. These include fractional CO2 lasers, erbium lasers, and non-ablative lasers.

Controlled thermal energy works by gradually fading melasma patches and promoting smoother and even-toned skin. Laser treatments are performed in multiple sessions and may require some downtime for recovery.

3.      Chemical Peels

Chemical peels involve applying a solution containing mild acids to the skin. This causes the outer layers to peel off, revealing fresher and less pigmented skin. Superficial peels, often glycolic or lactic acid, are used for melasma treatment.

These peels help to exfoliate the skin and reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Deeper peels, like those containing trichloroacetic acid (TCA), are used to treat severe cases. However, they require more downtime and caution.

Melasma Coping Techniques

Living with Melasma isn’t easy. It can make you feel embarrassed or self-conscious. Coping techniques can help individuals manage the condition and its impact on their well-being.

  • Sun Protection: Since sun exposure is a major trigger for Melasma, protecting the skin from UV radiation is crucial. This includes sunscreen with a high SPF, wearing wide-brimmed hats, and seeking shade during peak sun hours.
  • Camouflage Makeup: Formulated makeup products can help conceal melasma patches and even out skin tone. These products provide a temporary solution for those looking to enhance their appearance.
  • Stress Management: Stress can exacerbate melasma symptoms for some individuals. Engaging in stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, and mindfulness can be beneficial.
  • Eat Healthily: Eating a balanced diet rich in antioxidants and staying well-hydrated can support skin health. Foods with anti-inflammatory properties and high in vitamins C, D, and E can be beneficial. These include yogurt, orange juice, oily fish, mushrooms, milk, meat, eggs, and almond milk.
  • Skin Care Routine: Establish a gentle and consistent skincare routine. Use mild cleansers, moisturizers, and products recommended by a dermatologist. Avoid harsh scrubs or exfoliants that could exacerbate Melasma.
  • Regular Follow-Ups: Melasma can be a persistent condition. Therefore, regular check-ins with your dermatologist are essential. They can track your progress and adjust your treatment plan as needed.

Treat Melasma with Suncoast Skin Solutions

Professional dermatological care is essential for effectively managing Melasma. Suncoast Skin Solutions, a reputable dermatology practice, offers a range of advanced surgical and non-surgical treatments and personalized solutions for Melasma.

Our experienced dermatologists can provide expert advice, create tailored treatment plans, and recommend appropriate skincare products to address Melasma and improve skin health. Remember that even though it is a complex skin condition, Melasma is treatable. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!

SunCoast Skin Solutions Dermatology offices are located in Tampa / Hillsborough, St. Pete / Pinellas County, Brandon, Lutz, Winter Haven, Largo, Hudson, Leesburg, Jupiter, Lecanto, Riverview, Brooksville, Clearwater, Ocala, Palm Harbor, Daytona Beach, Sarasota, Punta Gorda, Seminole, (Inverness, Port Charlette, Port Saint Lucie coming soon), Florida. Contact us at 1-844-786-3376 or click here.