Melasma (muh-LAZ-muh) primarily affects women. The symptoms of melasma are irregular patches of hyperpigmentation commonly found on the upper cheek, nose, lips, upper lip, and forehead. It also can appear on other parts of the body that get a lot of sun, such as the forearms and neck.
It is commonly associated with pregnancy, called the "mask of pregnancy." Birth control pills may also cause melasma. To see how deeply the melasma penetrates the skin, the dermatology provider may look at your skin under a device called a Wood’s light.
Melasma can often fade on its own when the trigger causing it is taken away (the woman delivers the baby or stops taking the birth control pills). However some women have melasma for years. For persistent and stubborn cases, the following treatments are available:
Fraxel Dual Laser
The Fraxel Dual is the leading and only technology considered a pigment solution for patients suffering from melasma and significant sun damage. Groundbreaking pigment eradication – 1927nm, referred to as Thulium, eliminates pigmentation. Plus, the Fraxel Dual has a built in cooling device that works simultaneously during treatment to offer more comfort
IPL (intense pulsed light) is a safe and effective treatment for unwanted pigmentation. Areas of the skin that carry excess pigmentation absorb the light energy during treatment and become damaged. Those areas will darken initially, and then the body’s natural healing process takes effect to eradicate the discoloration. A single treatment or a series of IPL treatments may be required for optimal results.
Topical application of products including hydroquinone (4%) and tretinoin suppress melanin production and increase cellular turnover making them very effective for treating melasma. For women who are pregnant, products with azaleic acid and kojic acid may be moderately effective.
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