What Can Cause Melasma?

January 12, 2011

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Melasma is a skin condition whereby there is an excess production of the skin pigment melanin. It is this pigment that gives the skin its color and thus dark skinned people have higher levels of melanin while light skinned people have low levels. This pigmentation may come as a result of three main causes; hormones during pregnancy, hormones during medication of birth control and exposure to the sun:

Pregnancy

When a woman falls pregnant her body begins to prepare itself to support another live. There are many changes that happen and one of them is hormonal. This may cause an adverse reaction on the production of melanin leading it to rise. Melasma in this case is also known as the mask of pregnancy.

Birth control

The chemicals found in birth control pills also have almost the same effect on the body as a pregnancy does. In short it mimics the body’s hormones thus having the same effect of raising the production levels of this pigment and leading to darker patches of skin.

Exposure to sun

This has got to be the worst culprit when it comes to skin disorders and conditions. The sun is responsible for most of people’s conditions. The sun emits UV rays which are harmful to the skin and are said to cause cancer. The ozone layer which surrounds the earth is responsible for filtering most of the rays from the sun to reduce their effectiveness but over the years, the ozone layer has slowly been eroding away due to the increasing amount of toxic gas released into the atmosphere. This in turn has led to an increasing amount of UV rays penetrating to get to the earth. When the skin is exposed to too much sunlight the melanocytes found within the skin are stimulated to produce more melanin leading to the darkening of the skin.

There are a number of types of melasma:

Epidermal melasma; where it is only the top layer of the skin which is affected. This means that it will also be easier to heal.

Dermal melasma; in this case the condition goes much deeper than just the top layer and is very hard to treat.

Mixed dermal and epidermal; in this case both types are represented with the skin having both the superficial and deep aspects of the condition. This type however needs intensive treatment like laser treatment.

Pregnant women and women on the pill are not the only ones capable of getting melasma. Even women who’ve never fallen pregnant nor used birth control before are capable of getting melasma.

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