Treating the Skin Condition of Melasma

September 9, 2010

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Otherwise known as mask of pregnancy or chloasma or simply as age spots, melasma typically occurs as irregular spots of tan, dark skin, mostly among women taking oral or patch contraceptives in addition to pregnant women. This skin condition can also become visible among females who have been taking HRT or hormone replacement therapy medications. People of Jewish, Russian, as well as German descent have also been known to be vulnerable to having facial pigmentation/discoloration thanks to melasma, which has been shown in recent studies on skin conditions.

Melasma typically appears on parts of the body such as the forehead, lips, nose, upper cheeks or upper lip and can increase in area with the passage of time. Medically speaking, chloasma is a type of skin discoloration brought on by the stimulation of melanocytes (the body’s pigment-producing cells) by sex hormones of the female, such as estrogen in addition to progesterone, to produce abnormally big amounts of melanin when the skin is under too much sun for far too long.

Melasma treatment is sought after by many to remove the unsightly patches of tan skin which can mar one’s looks considerably. Luckily 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 a lot of 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. Application of hydroquinone (HQ) as a topical depigmenting agent to reduce the making of tyrosinase within the body is one method of melasma treatment. 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 process, treats melasma through increasing the amount of skin cells being produced in the body. However, this treatment using tretinoin is forbidden for women who are pregnant. Chemical peels with glycolic acid, facial peels with alpha hydroxyacids, application of azelaic acid to impede melanocyte activity – these are additional ways for treating melasma. A laser treatment using the Fraxel laser is also another way.

The type of treatment one must have for their melasma will vary on a case to case basis, seeing that one treatment process may not be as effective on one individual as it may be for another. But no matter what kind of process of treatment one selects, the person must avoid sun exposure after experiencing the treatment. The effects of any treatment will be seen gradually so during treatment, one should start staying away from the sun. For a successful treatment for melasma, it is recommended that you start to use sunscreen on your body and face.

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