Experiencing a flare-up of brown patches on your skin? Do not ignore it or mistakenly think that your existing freckles have somehow become larger. Chances are that the problem may actually be a condition widely known as melasma. Of all the negative effects that the sun has on the human skin, melasma is one of the worst.
A fairly common skin condition, melasma, also known as hyperpigmentation and chloasma, mostly affects women. Worldwide, the prevalence of melasma during pregnancy is reported to be around 50–70%. It is often referred to as the ‘mask of pregnancy’.
The condition is identified by brown to gray-brown patches, which occur either as random splotches or are connected together. The patches usually appear on sun-exposed areas of the face, such as the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin and upper lip. They can also appear on the neck and forearms. Melasma patches tend to be symmetrical, so if you have an affected area on one cheek, you are most likely to have one on the other cheek.
Who Gets Melasma: Pregnancy and Other Factors
Melasma is usually classified into three types according to the layer of skin it affects:
Epidermal melasma affects the top layer of skin or epidermis. In this type, patches are usually tan or dark brown with well-defined borders and can be treated easily. Dermal melasma affects the dermis or the second, deeper layer of your skin and is identified by light brown patches and are relatively hard to treat. Mixed melasma is a combination of both dermal and epidermal melasma. When treated, the condition is likely to improve.
Those at risk for melasma may have one or all of the following factors:
· Family history
· Hormonal changes
· Initiation/change of oral contraceptive or drug-eluding IUDs
· Initiation/change of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Darker patches usually appear on foreheads, temples, above the upper lip, and cheeks. The symptoms are cosmetic — the skin won't be sore.
How to Treat Melasma
The first step in treating melasma is visiting a dermatologist to confirm that the darkened patches on your skin are indeed melasma and determining what is causing it. Treating melasma will not be effective unless the underlying cause is addressed.
That being said, the next steps are as follows:
Shun the Sun
The best way to prevent melasma is to limit skin exposure to the sun. If you go out in the sun, take these preventive measures:
· Wear a hat to protect your face
· Apply sunblock (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) on the vulnerable areas of your skin
· Use a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to protect against both ultraviolet A and B radiation.
Try Home Remedies
There is a lot more you can do on your own to help your skin heal faster and prevent future damage. Besides reducing sun exposure, you can:
· Establish and maintain a good cleansing regimen
· Combat skin stress with antioxidants by dabbing on a few drops of a serum that contains vitamin C and E to improve skin health
· Apply a good moisturizer after using the serum. This will help restore the lipid barrier of your skin, protecting it from damage
Last but not least, remember that there's no overnight fix for melasma. Even with proper treatment, it may take months to recover from it. So, be patient.
For further information on melasma and its treatment, call us @ 06292 009 990.