Melasma or Chloasma: How Do I Keep It From Getting Worse?

September 20, 2010

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Whether you are diagnosed with melasma or chloasma there are a number of things you can do to prevent it or keep it from getting worse. And, while this may sound like a version of the old job, “Doctor, Doctor, it hurts when I do this?” And the reply to the old saw is: “So, don’t do that!” It’s really truer than you think.

While primarily a problem endemic to pregnant women or women of child-bearing years, melasma or chloasma – dark blotchiness along the bridge of the nose, cheeks, chin or forehead – can be a problem for young men who use aftershaves or toiletries or those with hormonal or thyroid problems.

And, the classic treatment for this is to avoid overexposure to the sun. Because these conditions can cause your skin your facial areas to become oversensitive to the sun, then chloasma or melasma can appear.

Rarely, if ever, cancer-causing, they still are cosmetically embarrassing and the best way to keep either condition from becoming worse is to keep out of the sun. Or, if you must go out into the sun, especially if you are predisposed to the sun by your area of origin – North African, Mediterranean, Indian, for example – then you must use a high SPF sunscreen at all times. Dermatologists advise using sunscreens with SPF ratings of 35 or more.

Using ointments containing hydroquinone, tretinoin, azelaic or kojic acids can also keep melasma or chloasma from becoming worse and over a relatively short period of time, provided one remains out of the sun, one should find that any blotchiness should start to lighten or disappear.

If you must go out into the sun, then you should be prepared to wear broad-brimmed headwear that should be fairly airy, just to keep the heat down and, at the same time, you must remember to wear long-sleeved loose-fitting garments, especially in warmer climates. If you take this advice, then you will find that a chloasma or melasma outbreak should lighten and disappear.

It is the repeated exposure to the sun that causes the melanocytes under the skin to cause pigments to be produced whose aim is to protect the skin from the effects of the sun. This is a natural process that can cause embarrassment, especially if you have a heavy outbreak.

The bottom line here is to remember the treatments prescribed by your dermatologist – in fact you must work with a dermatologist to ensure you are getting the correct treatment. Treatments can range from the ointments discussed to chemical peels, where the impacted skin is chemically stripped away, exposing clear skin, plus dermabrasion, where the skin is scrubbed away, using special creams and lightly abrasive pads right to laser-treatment in severe cases.

If you are under treatment, then follow your dermatologist’s advice on sunscreen, avoid excess exposure to the sun and wear the right clothing and you will keep chloasma and melasma from getting worse.

Age Spots Further ReadingMelasma Further Reading:

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