Treatment Modes For Melasma: The Cream Of The Crop

September 18, 2010

Melasma, also usually called chloasma, is a hyperpigmentation of the skin making the skin’s color uneven. When melasma occurs when a woman is pregnant, it is called chloasma. It shows as a dark-colored blotch, usually brown with irregular borders. It is commonly found on the facial region particularly the cheeks, chin, forehead, nose and lips. But this is the only problem in having melasma – the bothersome patch – and not tenderness, itching or propensity to develop into cancer. Melasma is usually found in women than men – with these women being pregnant or women undergoing either contraception or hormonal replacement.

It takes a while before melasma forms. According to studies, its exact cause cannot be pinpointed but they consider the following as its various possible causes. The most significant cause that most of us are familiar with is overexposure to the sun’s damaging rays requiring the need to make melanin. Another is the overproduction of melanin caused by the hormones estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy or when one is using contraceptives or hormonal replacement drugs containing these hormones. Another influential cause is the history of acquiring melasma in the family. Another cause worth telling is a thyroid gland abnormality resulting to overproduction of the hormones and the eventual rousing of the cells responsible for the generation of melanin.

If you are currently dealing with melasma, you can now opt to have any of the following recommended treatment options. Using topical creams comprised of hydroquinone, tretinoin, or azelaic acid is one of the currently available treatments for melasma. Hydroquinone’s effectiveness rests on its capability to stop tyrosinase functioning which then stops the yield of melanin. Hydroquinone comes in two percent, four percent or greater concentrations. Both effectiveness and negative effects increase as the concentration increases. Tretinoin helps remove the discoloration caused by melasma by yielding more collagen and by increasing the rate at which keratinocytes are eliminated. But tretinoin cannot beat the strength of hydroquinone. It is therefore combined with hydroquinone. Azelaic acid, a more potent skin lightener than two percent hydroquinone, works by hindering the melanocytes from functioning properly and therefore, decreasing melaning. But they all equally cause minor skin problems such as irritation, itching and redness. Another treatment option is the use of chemical peels to gently exfoliate the skin and therefore remove the discoloration. The doctor decides if he or she would use a light, medium or deep type of chemical peel. Another type of exfoliating the skin is the dermabrasion which uses a vacuum and a handheld scraper instead of chemicals. You can also undergo laser therapy but aside from being a bit dangerous, it also is not known for effectiveness. However, most of these treatments, especially the use of chemicals or laser, can possibly lead to complications such as scars, tissue death and further skin pigmentation if not properly used. You must be ready to spend a generous amount of money to be able to have these treatments. Therefore, doctors still recommend topical creams containing hydroquinone despite few reported side effects.

But whichever of the above treatment options you choose, keep in mind that effects are attained slowly for melasma’s formation is also a gradual process. Since these treatments limit melanin, you are more prone to the sun’s damaging effects requiring the need for total sun aversion while the treatment is ongoing.

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