Melasma and its Treatments
Melasma is one of the most common skin pigmentation disorders. It appears mostly on the face as brown or gray-brown patches. It mostly affects the area – cheeks, chin, forehead, bridge of the nose, and the upper lips. It also can be seen on the other open parts of the body like the arms, hands, and neck. The patches occur symmetrically as a matched mask on both sides of the face.
Usually, women possess more probability to be affected by Melasma than men especially, in the pregnancy period. In this time, Melasma is called “the mask of the pregnancy” or “the cholasma”. This disease is triggered by the effect and activity of certain hormones. Around 90% of Melasma patients are women and so, it indicates that 10% of men are affected by Melasma.
Generally, protection from sun exposure will help to protect the skin from the Melasma as it is triggered by the sun-ray’s effects, mainly. So, applying sunscreen and re-applying it per 2 hours may help to prevent the further effect of Melasma. Wide hat under the sun is always suggested by the dermatologists.
Reason or triggering facts
The real reason of Melasma cannot be identified yet. People of dark skin are affected by it more than the fair skinned people. The estrogen hormone sensitivity and also the progesterone hormone sensitivity can be seen in this condition. So, the birth control medicines, pregnancy, and other hormonal therapy will work as a melasma triggering fact. Depression and mental stress can increase the impact of Melasma. As the hormonal issues affect it, thyroid diseases can also trigger melasma. As the sun-ray or the UV light affect the melanocytes pigment, sunlight can cause or trigger the effect or the after effect of the melasma.
Most of the dermatologist analyze the Melasma of the skin by a visual exam only. To enquire the further condition, doctors may perform some other tests. In general, two techniques are used to analyze Melasma – the Wood’s lamp examination and the biopsy.
The Wood’s lamp examination uses a special kind of light. This light is just held on the skin of the patient. With this light, the dermatologist can check the fungal and the bacterial infection level of the skin and also the number of the affected skin layers can also be identified.
In the case of the serious condition of Melasma, biopsy process is used. This process needs the removal of a small piece of the skin to test.
Melasma can be healed naturally on its own with time. At the first stage, sunscreen use or avoiding sunlight can protect the skin from further Melasma. As it is triggered by the hormonal effects, the use of the birth control pills or the therapy of hormone should be avoided. Otherwise, medications and laser therapy are used to treat serious types of melasma.
Dermatologists prescribe combine or formulated creams containing hydroquinone, azelaic acid, retinoic acid, phenolic agent and a nonphenolic bleaching or kojic acid. In severe condition, medicines or creams of higher percentages of hydroquinone with the glycolic acid or the corticosteroids or the tretinoin is used to treat melasma.
Generally, two types of hydroquinone therapies are used to treat severe melasma. One of the therapy is 2% of hydroquinone creams and the other therapy is the mediations with 4% hydroquinone containing medicines.
The 2% hydroquinone products are the over the counter products like the esoterica and the porcelain. To use it, the prescription or the visit to a dermatologist may be required. This product’s effectiveness has been proved clinically. As the doses of the hydroquinone are only 2%, it causes less irritation with the lightening effect of the skin. The dose of this cream is to use for twice per day. When this medicine’s use is going on, the sunscreen cream is suggested to use too. The sunscreen should be used over the hydroquinone cream on the skin.
The 4% hydroquinone cream is the sunscreen like glytone sun vanish cream with around 23 SPF or the obagi’s sun fader sunscreen. However other 4% hydroquinone medicines are obagi clear, neocutis Blanche etc. these creams are also needed to apply on the brown spots twice per day. The epidermal types of melasma response very well in these medicines or products because epidermal melasma remains closer to the skin surface.
The microdermabrasion process is used to treat melasma. It uses the vacuum suction material and the abrasive materials such as the small diamond chips or the aluminum oxide crystals. These products exfoliate the skin layer. The pressure of the vacuum is adjusted based on the sensitivity and the tolerance level of the skin. This process can take a few minutes and in some different cases, it can take maximum one hour. It can give instant results or it can take a very less time to give effect. But, it needs the protection of the skin from the sun.
Some of the dermatologists do not approve the use of microdermabrasion as it can affect negatively and worsen the situation in some cases. So, medicines and the protective measures are wise to use as the treatment for the melasma.