Melasma (muh-LAZ-muh) primarily affects women. The symptoms of melasma are irregular patches of hyperpigmentation commonly found on the facial cheek, nose, lips, upper lip, and forehead. It also can appear on other parts of the body that receive sunlight, such as the forearms and neck.
Melasma is also commonly associated with pregnancy and referred to as the “mask of pregnancy.” Birth control pills may also cause melasma among women. To see how deeply the melasma penetrates the skin, our dermatology specialists 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 removed (i.e. the woman delivers her baby or stops taking birth control pills). However, some women have melasma for years. For persistent and stubborn cases, SkinSpeaks offers the following treatments:
The Fraxel Dual is the leading technology considered pigment solution for patients suffering from melasma, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), and significant sun damage. Groundbreaking pigment eradication—reaching the depth of 1927nm, eliminates pigmentation. In addition, the Fraxel Dual Laser Treatment has a built-in cooling device that works simultaneously during treatment to offer patients 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 this medical dermatology treatment and become damaged. As those areas darken, 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 that include hydroquinone and tretinoin suppress melanin production and increase cellular turnover making them very effective at treating melasma.
However, these prescription skin care products are not appropriate for women who are pregnant or nursing.
The approach to treating melasma with chemical peels should be slow and steady to minimize skin inflammation that may actually worsen the hyperpigmentation. Keeping up with light chemical peels on a monthly basis in combination with skin lightening creams and sun protection is the best skin care treatment to manage melasma over time. Three main chemical peels are used to even out melasma: Salicylic Acid Peels, Glycolic Acid Peels, and Retinoic Acid Based Peels.