WHAT IS MELASMA? Melasma, also called ‘chloasma’ and ‘pregnancy mask’, is a common skin condition among adults in which light to dark brown or greyish patches of pigmentation develop mainly on facial skin. It is more common in women, especially pregnant women, and people with darker skin-types who live in sunny climates. However, it can affect men (10% of patients) and any race. Melasma usually becomes more noticeable in the summer and improves during the winter months. WHAT CAUSES MELASMA? The exact cause is not known, but several factors can contribute. These include pregnancy, hormonal drugs, such as the oral contraceptive pill, and medical conditions which affect hormone levels. Sunshine and the use of sun-beds can make the tendancy to melanoma worse. HOW MELASMA LOOKS. Melasma appears as darker-than-normal skin affecting the cheeks, forehead, upper lip, nose and chin, usually in a symmetrical manner. It may be limited to the cheeks and nose or the skin of the jaw region. The neck and the forearms can also be affected. Areas of melanoma are not raised.
HOW CAN IT BE TREATED? Melasma treatments fall into the following categories, and can be used together:
- Elos IPL Laser treatment is the most effective treatment but a few treatments are required.
- Skin peels are also very effective for this condition. They gradually fade the pigment down.
- Avoiding known trigger factors, such as the oral contraceptive pill.
- Adopting sun avoidance measures and using sun blocking creams containing high amounts of zinc.
- Skin-lightening agents (Xcell Medical Skincare products).
- Skin camouflage – a highly pigmented cream which is matched to individual skin colour .
SUN PROTECTION. Skin affected bye melanoma darkens more than the surrounding skin with exposure to sunlight so sun-avoidance and sun-protection are very important.
SELF CARE – WHAT CAN I DO? If you have melasma it is vitally important to protect your skin from sunlight exposure and to avoid using exposure and to avoid using sunbeams. When melanoma improves, sustained improvement can be achieved by continuing to protect your skin from the sun.