What is Melasma?
(Facial Dark Spots)
Melasma, sometimes called sunspots is a skin condition in which dark areas or spots (tan, brown or black) appear randomly on the parts of the face such as the cheeks, chin, forehead, jaws and nose. Melasma discoloration is usually symmetrical but not always and they can be found on any sun-exposed areas of face. The strong association of sun exposure with occurrence and deterioration of melasma is medically documented hence the accurate nickname.
Who is susceptible to Melasma?
This common condition can affect any race and skin color; however it is seen mostly in women with olive and darker skin tones. Hispanics, Asians, Indians, and Middle Eastern individuals are more at risk of getting melasma. Melasma is linked female hormonal imbalance that accompanies pregnancy and in the use of hormonal contraceptives.
Treatment of Melasma
The first level of treatment is prevention by avoiding over exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. People with darker skin often ignore protecting their skin. Medical research indicates that ultraviolet radiation promotes skin cancer by 1) damaging the DNA in skin cells and by 2) weakening the body’s natural defenses against cancer cells.
The fact is that people no matter their skin color should utilize the best treatment for Melasma is prevention by avoiding excessive sun exposure or by applying sun blocks. It is not practical in to completely avoid exposure to the sun; so appropriately picking a sun block is essential.
Choosing Sun Block
Sunscreens that have a sun protection factor (SPF) of between 30 and 75+. are marketed as “broad spectrum” protection against both ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation, which tans and ages skin, and UVB radiation, which causes sunburn. THe metrics by the SPF rating is based as follows; if you get sunburn after 20 minutes without sunscreen, an SPF 30 product would protect you for about 10 hours (20 minutes x 30). Still, other factors do also contribute to skin damage:
- sun intensity
- geographic location
- skin type
- Levels of sweating or swimming
All this means SPF is a relative measure of protection and an individual must take all this in account to provide reasonable protection for their skin.
People often The use of bleaching creams is a first level therapuetic treatment of Melasma spots. These over the counter (OTC) bleaching creams contain 2% hydroquinone. A dermatologist can prescribe a stronger bleaching cream. These prescription products usually contain stronger hydroquinone, Retin-A (tretinoin) or combinations of medications such as hydroquinone with tretinoin and topicalal steroids.
Chemical peels can remove dark spots, melasma, freckles, wrinkles, and fine lines. Chemical peels may smooth the skin and lighten dark spots gradually. The superficial peels available as a glycolic acid or other products could be used to remove the darkened spots with minimal or no down time. Deeper peels could be used under supervision of a physician and are more effective however the downtime might be longer in deeper peels, too.
Laser resurfacing can offer another way to resurface the skin and could effectively treat some types of melasma spots. It can also be used for wrinkles, fine lines and small scars. IPL is another type of physical intervention that could be used to treat melasma.
Intense broadband light (IPL) delivers a light spectrum of energy to superficial and deep layers of the skin with out damaging the epidermis (the outer or superficial layer)IPL is one of the newer forms of facial rejuvenation. Unlike lasers, which use intense, focused light, IPL is intense broadband light. IPL delivers energy to both the superficial and deep layers of the skin; however the superficial layer of epidermis is not get damaged.
Studies indicate that IPL can smooth the skin, fade age spots, freckles, melasma, and abnormal blood vessels. Dermatiologist usually prescribe 4 – 6 session for treatment conducted over intervals of 3 weeks between each treatment.is best to be repeated every 3 weeks and a series of 4 to 6 sessions needs to be completed. Improvement may last for up to a year or longer in some occasions with good sun protection. Since IPL because it does not damage the epidermis there is minimal downtime. It is important to use a sun block cream with SPF of 30 or higher at all times when you are being treated for melasma or skin hyperpigmentation.