Pigment and Brown Spots

Pigment

Know More About The commonest Pigment Problem in Asian Women---Melasma!

Melasma is a very common skin condition which appears like patchy brown, tan, or blue-gray facial skin discoloration, usually seen in women in the reproductive years (20-50 years old). It typically appears on the upper cheeks, nasal bridge, upper lip, forehead, and chin. It is uncommon in males. 

1. Causes:

Sun exposure is the commonest trigger factor. 

Other factors include: external hormones like birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, and internal hormonal changes as seen in pregnancy, post –menopause, stress, family history of melasma, race, antiseizure medications. 

Melasma typically develops in the summer months, when the sun is most intense. In the winter, the hyperpigmentation in melasma tends to be less visible or lighter. 

Skin products or treatments that irritate the skin may aggravate melasma symptoms.

2. Can melasma be cured?

No, at present there is no cure for melasma, but there are several treatment options which may improve the appearance. Superficial pigmentation is easier to treat than deep pigmentation. If melasma occurs during pregnancy, it may resolve on its own within a few months after delivery and treatment may not be necessary.

3. Treatment:

One of the most important treatments for melasma is sun protection. This means wearing sunscreen every day and reapplying the sunscreen every 2 hours. We also recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat when you are outside. 

Melasma treatments fall into the following categories, which can be used together:

•Avoiding known trigger factors, such as the oral contraceptive pill or perfumed cosmetics.

•Using appropriate sun avoidance measure (wide-brimmed hat) and using sunblock with SPF 45 and above.

•Balanced lifestyle: adequate sleep, reduce stress, taking food rich in Vitamin C like fruits and vegetables, plenty of water consumption.

•Skin-lightening agents.

•Skin Treatments: Chemical peels, dermabrasion and laser treatment.

•Cosmetic camouflage (mineral make-up).

4. What can I do?

The most important thing you should do is to protect your skin from sunlight exposure. This involves using sunscreens which protect against both UVA and UVB light, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 45, wearing broad-brimmed hats, and avoiding direct exposure to sunlight. You should consult a professional doctor to design a treatment plan individually for you.

If your melasma improves with treatment, you need to continue with maintenance therapies which mainly focus to protect your skin from the sun, keep your skin moist, taking enough water and Vitamin C, reduce stress& other trigger factors.

Hope all these simple tips can help those in need.

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