What Is Melasma?

Melasma is the darkish brown pigmentation that occurs on the forehead, cheeks, upper lip and chin symmetrically on both sides of the face. It occurs almost exclusively in females and rarely in men. It is most commonly seen in women when associated with pregnancy, use of birth control pills and/or hormone replacement therapy. Because of this, it is believed to be associated with female hormones. It occurs more frequently in women with darker skin tones.

What Causes Melasma?

Although the exact cause is not known, melasma usually accompanies the use of hormones, or other sun sensitizing medications as well as exposure to the sun. It will usually be seen at the end of summer after the most exposure to the sun and decrease in the winter.

Superficial melasma, the discoloration that is limited to the epidermis of the skin, may be formed during pregnancy (also called chloasma) will often resolve a few weeks after delivery. Deeper melasma, the discoloration in the dermis of the skin, may last for months or even years and is very difficult to clear.

What Are The Treatments For Melasma?

The best treatment is the daily use of an effective sunblock. Laser Esthetica carries several brands of sunblock that both protect from the sun and smooth skin.

Other treatments include chemical applications such as hydroquinone with retinoids, azelaic acid and kojic acid, all of which can be purchased or prescribed at Laser Esthetica.

We also use a series of chemical peels – lactic acid and/or glycolic peels which help with decreasing darkness.

We also use a newer peel called Melanage for melasma treatments that shows great results, though it does have a downtime of three or four days.

IPL or Fotofacial treatments may be helpful, especially for patients with superficial melasma. However, generally lasers are not the first choice to treat melasma.

The best way to find the most effective treatment for you is to come in for a personalized consultation to discuss the discoloration of your skin. Call our office today at (916) 783-0580.

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