It is perfectly normal to develop slightly over-pigmented patches on your face or shoulders, particularly during or after pregnancy. It’s also perfectly normal to want to get rid of them! Melasma is a common concern, chiefly among women, and it can be successfully addressed with the help of effective topical medications, medical procedures, or a combination of the two. The team at IDI offers customized treatment plans for patients of all ages seeking clear, healthy, even-toned skin.
What is Melasma?
Melasma is a skin condition that primarily appears in women, though some men might experience it too. It is the darkening of patches on the skin due to the overproduction of melanin-producing cells called melanocytes. It is generally seen in the face, though the neck, arms, and shoulders can also be affected. The cause isn’t precisely known, though it tends to occur in women experiencing hormone fluctuations during pregnancy or as a side-effect of hormonal birth control. (It’s often called “the mask of pregnancy.”)
While melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation, it is characterized by a reaction to hormone production rather than other factors, like sun exposure or acne scarring. It mainly occurs in patients with olive or darker skin tones, and it might have a genetic component, as it tends to run in families.
The patches of discoloration are typically brown or grayish brown, depending upon skin tone. They do not cause any sensation, and are not harmful. The patches are not raised, and resemble a stain or smudge on the skin.
Some patients discover that the patches fade over time – women who experience hyperpigmentation during or after pregnancy often find that the patches disappear a few months after delivery. However, other people can have the condition for years or even permanently without treatment.
An experienced dermatologist will be able to identify hormonal hyperpigmentation after a visual inspection, though additional tests might be necessary under certain circumstances. The additional tests might include a skin biopsy or long-wave ultraviolet light examination.
Melasma Treatment Options
There are numerous treatments available. Many patients achieve good outcomes using topical creams and ointments that accelerate skin cell turnover, like retinoids. Skin lightening creams like hydroquinone might also be effective.
There are also medical procedures that have proven successful in treating hormonal hyperpigmentation. Laser and light therapies are especially effective treatments that can be used on a diverse spectrum of patients. Other treatments include:
- Chemical peels
It is important to note that melasma can still recur post-treatment if the patient doesn’t observe proper maintenance protocols. Sun exposure is one of the main triggers. It is important to always wear strong sunscreens to reduce the likelihood that the patches return.
IDI offers the latest medical treatments and cosmetic procedures for improving and removing hyperpigmentation caused by melasma. To discover the best solutions for your skin type, lifestyle, and goals, please contact our team of helpful representatives to schedule a consultation.