Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation that can affect your appearance and negatively impact your confidence. It often appears as dark brown patches on both sides of the face on sun-exposed areas such as the forehead, chin, cheeks, and neck. If it affects you psychologically, it would be good to have it checked out early because melasma is a progressive skin condition that may worsen over time. So, what causes melasma, and can we effectively remove them?
What causes Melasma?
Melasma is a common skin disease. It is translated loosely as “black spot” which is wide, flat darker patches on the skin that are not painful or itchy. Known as melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing and storing melanin – the dark pigment – reside in the epidermis, the top layer of the skin. When exposed to certain triggers, patches of melanocytes tend to produce more melanin, resulting in unwanted pigmentation.
Also known as the “mask of pregnancy”, melasma commonly affects women due to hormonal imbalances such as pregnancy, lactation, and oral contraceptives. Genetics and prolonged exposure to sunlight can also trigger melasma. Other treatments may be attributed to iatrogenic melasma, such as chemical peels and ablative laser therapy. Melasma is chronic and unpredictable, so a long-term treatment plan should be in place for proper management.
4 Stages to Getting Rid of Melasma Effectively
Dr Thean from Ensoul Medical Clinic shared that there are four stages to treating melasma effectively.
The first stage of melasma treatment:
Over-the-counter (OTC) products and oral supplements are different from medical creams for pigmentation.
While many OTC products are useful for preventing pigmentation such as sunscreen, they aren’t always very effective when it comes to treating pigmentation. However, medical-grade creams such as hydroquinone are proven scientific formulations with studies to support their effectiveness in treating pigmentation. Nevertheless, using topical creams alone may not be enough to treat hyperpigmentation.
The second stage:
The second stage of the treatment uses lasers to transfer pigments from the cells to the skin. Low-intensity beams are used for this purpose since the cells can be easily stimulated by a high-intensity beam, leading to excess pigment production.
The third stage:
The third stage of the treatment helps control hypervascularity by using 577nm yellow lasers to reduce abnormal blood vessels located under the skin. It will help control pigmentation production with great effectiveness. Oral medication is also used from time to time to supplement the lasers.
The fourth stage:
The last stage of this treatment uses lasers such as the various Pico Lasers to help speed up pigment removal. The lasers are used to remove the excess pigments by breaking them into smaller portions. After this process, you will be able to flush the excess pigments out of your body more quickly.
Not all lasers are suitable for melasma.
Since not all lasers are suitable for all patients, doctors have to find the lasers that are most appropriate for each patient. Some patients may require a combination of multiple lasers or adapt a multimodal approach to treat their stubborn melasma. Another effective treatment for melasma is known as pulsed radiofrequency microneedling. This energy-based device not only helps to lighten stubborn melasma, repairs the skin but also improves overall skin health and quality.
How To Protect Your Skin
After every treatment, it is critically important to take steps to avoid a relapse. Protect your skin with a minimum of SPF 30 sunscreen every time you are about to step out of your house because sunlight or UV rays can trigger melasma very easily. To avoid iatrogenic causes of flare-ups, you need to choose your cosmetics as well as hygiene products that are gentle on your skin more carefully.
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