Recognising Melasma: Signs, Causes, and Treatment Options

WRITTEN BY TEAM: January 4, 2024
A prevalent skin ailment that affects many people, especially women, is melasma. To assist you in managing melasma, we will examine what it is, its causes, and efficient treatment alternatives in this post.

What is Melasma?

The formation of symmetrical, hyperpigmented patches on the skin, usually on the face, is the hallmark of melasma. But it can also happen in other places, like the arms, chest, and neck. Darkened areas of skin that are darker than your natural skin tone are referred to as hyperpigmentation. The colour of melasma can appear grey, brown, or even blue. Crucially, melasma is asymptomatic—that is, it doesn’t hurt or cause itching.

Causes of Melasma

The majority of people who have melasma are genetically predisposed to the disorder. This indicates that they are more vulnerable to melasma triggers due to a genetic factor. UV light or radiation exposure is one of the main triggers. But not everyone who is exposed to sunlight gets melasma, which points to a possible hereditary component.
In addition to UV light, certain populations may experience melasma triggered by blue light, which falls within the visible light spectrum. Hormonal shifts, specifically increased levels of estrogen and progesterone, also contribute to the development of melasma. Women often report their first melasma flare-ups after starting oral contraceptive pills or during pregnancy. Melasma is sometimes referred to as the “mask of pregnancy” due to its association with hormonal changes. It’s important to note that progesterone therapy, including the use of the mini pill or hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs) like Skyla or Mirena, can also cause melasma. Recently, an increasing number of women in their 50s and 60s have been seeking treatment for melasma.

Treating Melasma

Sun Protection: The key to controlling melasma is shielding your skin from UV radiation. Even on overcast days, always use a high-SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen and reapply it every two hours. Use wide-brimmed hats as well, and look for shade during the hottest parts of the day.

Topical Agents: Hydroquinone, retinoids, corticosteroids, and azelaic acid are among the chemicals that dermatologists frequently advise using in topical creams. These substances aid in balancing the skin tone and illuminating dark areas.

Chemical Peels: Chemical peels entail putting a chemical solution on the skin, which removes the outermost layers of skin cells and leaves the skin looking more youthful and less pigmented. Treatment for melasma may involve medium-to-deep peels.

Laser Therapy: Melasma pigmentation can be targeted and reduced using certain laser treatments, such as fractional lasers. The extra melanin that causes the dark spots is broken down by these processes.

Combination Therapy: To get the best outcomes, a combination of treatments may be advised in some circumstances. Based on your unique requirements, your dermatologist can design a customised treatment plan for you.

Melasma is a common skin disorder that primarily affects women and is characterised by symmetrical hyperpigmented spots. Hormonal changes, UV and blue light exposure, and genetic predisposition all play important roles, while the precise causes are yet unknown. Even though melasma can be annoying, there are a number of treatment methods that can help control and enhance its appearance. Speak with a dermatologist to find the best course of action for treating your melasma.

Recall that the keys to treating melasma are persistence and tolerance. You can successfully lessen melasma’s visibility and attain a more even complexion with the right care.