Melasma - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Melasma is a skin condition in which your skin pigmentation is affected, eventually causing dark and discolored patches on your skin. When it occurs in pregnant women, it is called the mask of pregnancy or chloasma. It is more common in women as compared to men. The most common areas of the body where melasma occur are;

 

  • the bridge of the nose

  • the forehead

  • the cheeks

  • the upper lip

 

However, it can also occur on other body parts like the forearms, shoulders, and neck, especially when they are exposed to sunlight for a long time. According to experts, women with a darker complexion and pregnant are at greater risk of getting melasma. 

 

Causes 

 

The exact cause of melasma is unknown. But according to experts, it occurs due to malfunctioning of skin cells that cause it to produce too much color, eventually causing pigmentation of the skin. Therefore, people with darker skin tone are more prone to it as compared to those with a lighter complexion. Other things that can trigger it are;

 

  • Changes in hormones that occur during pregnancy 

  • Taking hormonal treatment

  • Taking birth control pills

  • Prolonged sun exposure

  • Using certain skincare products that irritate your skin

 

Having a family history of melasma can also make you prone to it. If any of your close relatives have it, the chances for you to have it increase. 

 

Symptoms 

 

The most common symptom of melasma is discoloration of the skin that is not painful. But it can cause stress and bother you. Most commonly, it occurs on;

 

  • the bridge of the nose

  • the forehead

  • the cheeks

  • the upper lip

 

However, it can also occur on the other body parts like forearms, shoulders, and neck, especially when they are exposed to sunlight for a long time.  

 

Diagnosis

 

The diagnosis is mostly made by looking at the lesion. The doctor identifies the lesion due to its characteristic appearance. However, in some cases, a skin biopsy may be ordered to rule out other similar diseases like skin cancers or other infections that need attention.

 

Treatment 

 

The healthcare provider uses the following agents to treat melasma.

 

Hydroquinone

 

The most common treatment for melasma is hydroquinone that works by lighting the skin. It comes in tubes, ointments, and lotions, therefore, applied topically. 

 

 

Trintenoin and corticosteroids

 

To get rid of hyperpigmentation, healthcare providers may prescribe tretinoin or corticosteroids. Often, tretinoin, corticosteroids, and hydroquinone creams come in a combination called a triple cream. 

 

Other agents 

 

Your healthcare providers may prescribe other agents like azelaic acid or kojic acid to lighten the melasma patches. 

 

Procedures

 

If treatment does not work, the healthcare providers may perform the following procedures;

 

  • laser treatment

  • light therapy

  • microdermabrasion

  • chemical peel

  • dermabrasion


 Conclusion 

 

Melasma is a skin condition in which pigmentation of your skin is affected, eventually causing dark and discolored patches on your skin. When it occurs in pregnant women, it is called the mask of pregnancy or chloasma. It is more common in women as compared to men.


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