Melasma and Its Treatment

September 12, 2010

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Otherwise known as mask of pregnancy or chloasma, melasma typically occurs as irregular patches of tan, dark skin, mostly among women taking oral or patch contraceptives in addition to pregnant women. Others who are also vulnerable to chloasma are women who are pregnant or are undergoing (HRT) hormone replacement therapy. Evidence has also been found in research proving that both male and female people of German, Jewish, and Russian descent are also prone to melasma which appears like facial pigmentation or discoloration.

The most usually afflicted parts of the body by melasma include the upper cheeks, forehead, upper lip, nose, in addition to lips, which can further in coverage as time progresses. To explain the condition medically, the skin discoloration caused by melasma is due to female sex hormones stimulating the body’s pigment-producing cells (melanocytes), causing the melanocytes to generate too much melanin once the skin is over-exposed to sunlight.

Melasma treatment is sought after by many to remove the unsightly patches of tan skin which can mar one’s looks considerably. Fortunately for pregnant and contraceptive-taking women, melasma commonly goes away of its own accord, once the mother gives birth or the woman stops her intake of contraceptives. The same can also go for numerous women undergoing HRT.

There are several ways of melasma treatment which are basically done to help speed up the fading of the irregularly colored skin areas. Examples of methods of melasma treatment can consist of using a topical depigmenting agent called hydroquinone (HQ) that hinders the production of tyrosinase. The process is often successful mainly because of the fact that tyrosinase is an enzyme that is necessary to make melanin. The use of tretinoin, another technique, treats melasma through increasing the quantity of skin cells being produced in the body. It is unfortunate, though, that women who are carrying a child in their womb are prohibited from using this technique of melasma treatment. Melasma can also be treated by using azelaic acid (which impedes the melanocytes’ activity), chemical peels with glycolic acid as well as facial peels with alpha hydroxyacids.  For others, the Fraxel laser treatment is a more comfortable process for erasing their melasma.

The type of treatment one must have for their melasma will vary on a case to case basis, seeing that one treatment way may not be as effective on one individual as it may be for another. But regardless of which type of melasma treatment the patient chooses, he or she must definitely avoid the sun after being treated for melasma. Results of the treatment are slow to appear so one must patiently stay out of the sun’s rays all the time. For a successful treatment for melasma, it is recommended that you start to use sunscreen on your body and face.

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