The Best Treatments For Melasma



Melasma, also popularly called chloasma or pregnancy mask, is a hyperpigmentation of the skin making the skin’s color unbalanced. When melasma happens when a woman is pregnant, it is called chloasma. It shows as a dark-colored blotch, usually brown with irregular borders. It is typically found on the facial area particularly the cheeks, chin, forehead, nose and lips. But it is a relatively good thing for it is not malignant, not tender, not itchy and not accompanied with other symptoms but the unsightly patch itself. Gender-wise, women are more involved most especially those that are carrying a child or are taking medication either for birth control or supplying hormones after menopause.

Melasma manifests slowly. Several studies report that they still cannot give the stringent cause of melasma but can only give its most feasible causes based on the cases. The most well-known is the overproduction of melanin when there is overexposure to the sun. The same reason, melanin overproduction, but this time, a different cause – the hormones estrogen and progesterone – is another feasible explanation for melasma growth. Another influential cause is the history of acquiring melasma in the family. Another cause is having a disorder involving the thyroid glands which leads to an excess production of the hormone that stimulates the melanocytes – the cells that produce melanin.

In today’s time, anyone can choose from various treatment modalities to accelerate the “removal” of melasma. Utilizing topical creams consisting of hydroquinone, tretinoin, or azelaic acid are the main treatments. Hydroquinone’s effectiveness rests on its capacity to stop tyrosinase functioning which then stops the generation of melanin. The available strengths of hydroquinone in topical creams are two percent, four percent and higher than four percent. With rising concentrations, success rises together with the chances of adverse effects. Tretinoin’s mechanism, on the other hand, is through the increased manufacture of collagen and the removal of keratin on the skin’s epidermis – the topmost layer. But tretinoin cannot beat the strength of hydroquinone. As a result, tretinoin comes in combination with hydroquinone. Azelaic acid’s mode of action is the decrease in the normal functioning of the melanocytes and this is proven to be more effective than the two percent concentration of hydroquinone. But all these three have minor negative effects such as skin irritation, itching and redness. Chemical peels are now attainable to help remove the appearance of melasma by mildly exfoliating the skin. The doctor evaluates if he or she would use a light, medium or deep type of chemical peel. Having the same mode of action as chemical peels, dermabrasion exfoliates the skin but with the use of a vacuum and a scraper – a manual process. Another treatment mode is laser therapy but which does not generate successful outcomes and at the same time, increases your risks for acquiring possible complications. However, most of these treatments, especially the use of chemicals or laser, can possibly lead to complications such as scars, tissue death and further skin pigmentation if not properly used. Moreover, they are much more expensive. Therefore, doctors still recommend topical creams containing hydroquinone despite few reported side effects.

But whichever of the aforementioned treatment options you choose, keep in mind that effects are achieved slowly for melasma’s development is also a slow process. Lastly, to not waste the work being done by the treatment, stringent avoidance of the sun is recommended.

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