Melasma, also known as “Chloasma,” is a skin pigmentation disorder characterized by dark symmetrical patches on the skin. The condition generally appears on the face, although it can also develop and show up in the arms, neck, and back. The mechanism of this skin condition involves pigment-producing cells in the skin called melanocytes. Melanocytes become overactive and produce too much pigment or melanin.
Melasma can significantly affect the quality of life for those who suffer from it. Melasma affects an estimated 6 million people in the United States. Typically, melasma doesn’t cause pain or irritation to the person affected by it. However, it can have an impact on their confidence and self-esteem.
What causes of Melasma?
- Estrogen/Progesterone Imbalance and fluctuations
Typically, melasma affects more women since women experience hormonal fluctuations at all stages of their lives more so than men. Research has shown that elevated levels of estrogen are associated with increased skin pigmentation. To a lesser degree, elevated progesterone levels can also cause melasma. Generally, during or after pregnancy, most women experience some degree of melasma. Pregnancy, a time in which the body experiences large hormonal changes, is notorious for causing flares of melasma – so much so that the condition has earned the nickname “the mask of pregnancy.” This in turn can persist in some women even after pregnancy.
2. Cortisol Hormone Imbalance
Cortisol is a hormone regulated by how much stress you experience in your life. The hormone cortisol helps you cope with stress you experience daily. As you become stressed, you produce more cortisol. The more you produce cortisol, the more you create an imbalance in estrogen. Estrogen up-regulates ‘melanocytes-stimulating hormone’ levels, which in turn increases the amount of melanin produced in the skin.
3. Thyroid and Hormones Associated with It
Studies show that people with thyroid disorders, specifically autoimmune thyroid conditions, have a higher incidence of melasma. This is due to the other hormones that are shown to play a role in melasma.
4. Exposure to Sunlight and Heat
Another common cause of melasma is exposure to the sun, specifically due to the Ultra Violet light that it emits. So if you already have melasma, then this is one of the reasons why melasma often becomes worse during the summer months, making melasma recurrences every year.
Melasma is not limited to women. In fact, according to recent studies, melasma tends to run in families regardless of whether a man or a woman inherits the condition. One study even showed that 70 percent of Latino men who have melasma also had family members with melasma.
Now that we covered some of the causes of melasma, let’s see if melasma can be treated and what the best treatments options are.
Best Melasma Treatment Options
Now that we have a deeper understanding of melasma and its causes, let’s look at how to treat it. However, it’s important to note: there is no permanent treatment for the condition. But, there are certain treatments, measures that you can take, and different procedures to prevent and eventually lessen the impact of melasma.
- Limit Sun Exposure
Most of the time, the best cure for some conditions is prevention. As the saying goes, “Prevention is better than a cure.” You don’t necessarily have to stay at home 24/7, but you should try to avoid sun exposure as much as you can. When heading outdoors, wear a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 or above.
2. Topical Treatments
Before trying any topical treatments for melasma, make sure to consult your doctor. Since skin type can vary between individuals and lifestyle, it’s best to discuss it first with your doctor. They can advise and prescribe the best options for you.
Here are some topical treatments that are effective for melasma:
- Tretinoin and corticosteroids
- Kojic acid
- Azelaic acid
- Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic acid)
- Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)
- Topical antioxidants
An anti-inflammatory diet rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, which can be found in colorful fruits, vegetables, healthy fats like olive and avocado oil, as well as omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and other fish, can be an addition to your sun protection strategies. You can also try taking supplements rich in some of these nutrients. Just make sure to consult your doctor before taking supplements.
3. Avoid stress
Although this is not one of the easiest treatments to consider, we have discussed that stress and hormonal imbalance can cause melasma. Try to avoid or manage your stress better with yoga, exercise, meditation in order to avoid producing too much cortisol.
What we have addressed so far are treatments that are life style changes and what we can self administer. The following listed treatments work best only when they are performed by licensed professional under the supervision of a physician or a highly trained physician.
Best Melasma Treatments Performed by Experts
This might sound scary to some since it involves micro-needles, which are very small needles that typically measure 0.1 – 1 mm in length. They are used to create pores in the topmost layer of the skin to allow the ingredients of certain topical creams to penetrate the layers of the skin where blood vessels and pigment cells are located.
This is a cosmetic procedure that involves a licensed specialist. The specialist removes the very top layer of the skin with a hand-held diamond-tip abrasive device that leads the skin to exfoliate. It can reduce signs of aging, make the skin appear more even toned, smoother, and give you glowy-skin. It can be an effective way to lessen the pigmentation evident in melasma. Skinvolution Laser Vein & MedSpa in AZ includes this treatment in each of their medical grade facials. Give them a call today to see if this treatment is right for you.
3. Chemical Peels
Professional strength chemical peels can be effective at diminishing the impact of the pigmentation that is present with melasma. These must be done by a licensed and trained professional to have the optimal outcome. Based on your individual skin’s needs, you could benefit from a series of peels vs. just doing one. Besides lessening the pigmentation, professional chemical peels can also help even out your skin tone, help with fine lines and wrinkles, help shrink pore size, and give your skin an amazing glow. Skinvolution Laser Vein & MedSpa in Glendale, AZ carries the VI Derm Peels and these have been shown to decrease the hyperpigmentation and sun damage that is seen with melasma.
A laser is a focused beam of light energy used to heat and destroy precise targets in the skin. Chromophores, including melanin, are being targeted by the laser causing the skin to lighten. Just make sure to choose the best physician with the best laser device when considering laser treatment. Lasers should be used in precise ways for better effectiveness. If you live in Arizona, or if you happen to be searching for the best Laser and Vein Center, check out Skinvolution Laser Vein & MedSpa. They have the best Q-switch Laser by Fotona called the Starwalker that can tackle melasma in just a few treatments and help you permanently get rid of it!
If melasma happens to be the skin condition that you are affected with, then don’t be afraid to try out these treatments. Melasma is indeed treatable. There might not be a guaranteed permanent treatment for melasma due to unavoidable outdoor activities and hormonal fluctuations. However, that should not limit you from being your best and trying out the best treatments that can help you gain back your self confidence, self esteem, and a better outlook on life.
If you happen to be looking for the best Melasma Treatment, feel free to check out Skinvolution Laser Vein & Medspa in Glendale, AZ and make an appointment with them for a free consultation to see what treatment options are right for you.