Melasma and Its Treatment

May 11, 2010

Otherwise known as mask of pregnancy or chloasma, melasma frequently occurs as irregular patches of tan, dark skin, mostly among women taking oral or patch contraceptives as well as pregnant women. This skin condition can also appear among females who have been taking HRT or hormone replacement therapy medications. There has also been research which has given evidence that both men and women of Russian, German, and Jewish descent are also commonly troubled by melasma which manifests as facial pigmentation that looks like discoloration.

The frequently affected skin areas of melasma include the nose, forehead, lips, upper lip, or upper cheeks and can progressively increase as time passes by. In the medical world, melasma is explained as a kind of skin discoloration caused by the stimulation of pigment-producing cells that are called melanocytes by female sex hormones (e.g., estrogen and progesterone) to produce large unusual amounts of melanin when the skin exposed to too much sunlight.

Since the ugly patches of irregularly dark skin make a person unattractive, a lot of people seek out melasma treatment to erase the traces of the skin condition. Luckily for pregnant and contraceptive-taking women, melasma typically 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 many women undergoing HRT.

The ways of treatment of melasma are varied and chiefly serve to make it possible for the patches of discolored skin to fade away faster or lessen in prominence. Some of these treatments for melasma removal include use of hydroquinone (HQ) which is a topical depigmenting agent that inhibits tyrosinase production. The process is often successful mainly due to the fact that tyrosinase is an enzyme that is necessary to make melanin. The use of tretinoin, another way, treats melasma through increasing the amount 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. Chemical peels with glycolic acid, facial peels with alpha hydroxyacids, use of azelaic acid to impede melanocyte activity – these are additional ways for treating melasma. For others, the Fraxel laser treatment is a more comfortable technique for eliminating their melasma.

Treatment varies from case to case basis, since one method may be more effective than others for one person. But it is a fact that despite whatever kind of treatment method one takes for melasma, that person must strictly refrain from being exposed to the sun’s rays once the treatment has started. Treatment will gradually show results, so it is very important that one should avoid the sunlight for the time being. For best results, it is extremely recommended that you apply sunscreen on your face and body daily.

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