Melasma is a skin condition that causes patches and spots that are darker than your natural skin tone. It most often affects the face but can also affect other areas of the body that are exposed to the sun, such as the forearms and neck.
There are no physical symptoms but it can have a big impact on your self-confidence and many people with melasma are keen to find treatment options.
What causes melasma?
The exact causes are not known but are thought to be because pigment-producing cells in the skin (melanocytes) produce too much pigment (melanin). Pregnancy, hormonal drugs and exposure to UV are thought to be potential triggers for melasma.
It is most common in women and often begins after a woman starts taking birth control pills or during pregnancy, which is why it is sometimes referred to as “the mask of pregnancy”. It is also thought to be more common in those with medium to dark skin tones but anyone can get it.
Since exposure to UV is thought to be a trigger, the use of sunbeds can also trigger melasma or make it worse where it is already present.
In rare cases, it might also be caused by other hormone-related medical issues such as thyroid problems or anti-epilepsy medication.
Does melasma ever go away?
Some people will find that their melasma does fade or disappear over time on its own. In women, for example, this may be after giving birth or stopping their birth control pill.
However, if this is not the case for you and melasma affects you in the long term, there are several treatment options that may help to improve the overall appearance of the skin.
How do you treat melasma?
Many people with melasma feel uncomfortable with the appearance of their skin, but there are treatment options available.
Firstly, it’s important to note that sun protection is the most important thing to consider when looking after your skin with melasma. This is because sunlight causes the skin to produce more pigment, which can darken any existing melasma and possibly create new patches.
Sun protection will involve staying out of the sun or seeking shade when the sun is at its strongest (11am-3pm), wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and not using sunbeds.
Other melasma treatment options include the following:
A chemical peel is a treatment which deeply exfoliates the skin, stimulating skin cell renewal and revealing a brighter and fresher complexion. It can target instances of discolouration such as the patches found with melasma, and your clinician will be able to recommend the best option for you. Your clinician will likely recommend a series of treatments to achieve the best results.
Laser treatments such as those for hyperpigmentation can also be useful in reducing the appearance of melasma. It can target the melatonin in dark patches on the skin, which reveals more even and unblemished skin.
Microneedling treatments, such as meso microneedling, can help to target melasma by triggering the body’s natural healing process and prompting skin cell turnover, therefore targeting pigmentation and generally rejuvenating the skin.
Skin brightening creams
There are a number of skin brightening creams and serums that can help to target hyperpigmentation on your face caused by melasma. These typically work by including antioxidants and exfoliating ingredients that prompt skin cell turnover and restore radiance.
These are just a few of the treatment options available for melasma, but if you book a personal consultation with a skin clinic, they will be able to advise on the best treatment for your skin.
If you are looking to treat melasma or another form of skin pigmentation or discolouration, you can arrange a consultation with one of our clinicians to discover the best options for you.