How To Choose A Sunscreen for Melasma

July 15, 2010

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Sunlight can cause melasma and hyperpigmentation. Often this is in combination with pregnancy, hormonal changes.   When the skin has been exposed to too many ultraviolet rays, the results can be dangerous. The right amount of UV rays help in the production of vitamin D. Too many ultraviolet rays causes skin cancer and aging.

Applying sunscreen on skin may help prevent melasma and hyperpigmentation from getting worse. Sunscreens work by reflecting or absorbing the extra UV rays that the body doesn’t need. The UVA and UVB are the two main kinds of ultraviolet rays that sunscreens prevent. UVA can cause skin cancer to develop, on the other hand, UVB is the one that causes sunburn. The problem against sunscreens is its unbalanced protection, when UVA is disregarded and UVB is blocked, which can cause more skin damage. When choosing the right sunscreen for you, what things should you bear in mind?

You have to recognize what type of skin you have first. There are 6 skin types according to Fitzpatrick (1975).
Type I     (1-5 von Luschan scale) very light (celtic/Nordic)
Type II    (6-10 von Luschan scale) light
Type III   (11-15 von Luschan scale) light intermediate, dark skinned European
Type IV    (16-21 von Luschan scale) dark intermediate, Mediterranean
Type V     (22-28 von Luschan scale) dark/ brown type
Type IV    (29-36 von Luschan scale) very dark/black

After that, list down all the things you’ll be doing that will need the use of sunscreen. By doing this you can already determine what sunscreen will be suited for you.  But another thing to consider is its SPF. The Sun Protection Factor determines how much defense a sunscreen can provide the user.   The typical SPF measurement is up to 50. Check the label for these ingredients to make sure that the sunscreen will provide effective protection for you: avobenzone, ecamsule or zinc oxide.

Sunscreens come in a variety of lotions or creams. Sunscreens are not the only one which has SPF, some whitening lotions have them too but their main purpose is different. If you just want to protect your melasma or pigmented skin from further damage, it would be better to use just plain sunscreen. It is up to you to find what would be the best sunscreen suited for you, your skin and your lifestyle.

However, it must be remembered that sunscreens are not the medication for melasma and pigmentation. They only provide protection from the harmful rays of the sun and prevent them from getting worse. If you want to totally get rid of your melasma or hyperpigmented skin, then consulting a dermatologist is recommended.

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