Melasma is a very common skin condition characterized by darkening of the skin in brown to gray patches. Women are more frequently affected, as are persons with darker skin types. The key factor exacerbating melasma is sun exposure. Another key factor are the hormonoal effects of birth control pills and pregnancy. That is why the other name for melasma is the mask of pregnancy (or chloasma). A family history of melasma also raises the chance that you may develop it. Broad spectrum sun protection and avoidance of irritants are key to helping prevent the occurrence and recurrence of melasma.
Where on my body can I find Melasma?
Facial areas that are usually involved are cheeks, forehead, bridge of the nose, and chin. The upper lip is an additional area that when affected can make the patient appear almost as if they have a mustache. It can appear on others areas of the body that have chronic sun exposure like the side of neck and forearms less commonly.
At Frederick Dermatology Associates, we can help tremendously control and treat your melasma. Curing the condition is very difficult. However, with the correct evaluation, education, and treatment, your melasma can be improved greatly.
Is Melasma Preventable?
Sun avoidance is key to improvement of melasma. Avoiding sun, wearing a wide- brimmed hat, and reapplication of a broad-spectrum tinted sunscreen of 50 will help control the darkening of your melasma. New evidence shows that the ferric oxide in tinted sunscreens give an additional element of protection by blocking visible light as well. Sun screens should be applied at least 15 minutes prior to exposure and repeated application needs to occur every 2 hours.
At Frederick Dermatology Associates, we are experts in skin. As board-certified dermatologists we are trained to accurately diagnose and treat melasma. We may use a Wood’s light for an evaluation of your melasma. This will help us to evaluate whether your melasma is more superficial (and more responsive to treatment) or whether it is deeper (and more resistant to treatment). However, most melasma has components of epidermal (superficial) and dermal (deeper) involvement. Many cases of melasma also involve a component of broken superficial blood vessels called telegenctasias. If this is the case, we may supplement your treatments with the Cynergy Pulsed Dye Laser for more effective results.
Treatment of melasma needs to start with sun avoidance and good skin care at home. Your skin care regimen will likely optimize lighteners and brighteners of the skin like hydroquinone, vitamin c, retinols, azelaic acid, and kojic acid.
If your doctor does not think topical skin care will be sufficient to treat your melasma, they may recommend other combined in-office treatments like Hydrafacials, chemical peels such as the Perfect Peel, IPL, or the use of our Lumenis Q-switched laser.
Our Q-switched laser can provide superior results to your melasma treatments. Topical treatments and exfoliation procedures do a good job at targeting the superficial component of melasma. Yet, to get to the deeper portion, the use of a Q-switched Nd:Yag laser can be helpful. It does not require high energies to penetrate to the second layer of the skin and destroy the pigment. Thus, many times it will avoid the rebound pigment you can get while treating melasma with other modalities that cause too much inflammation.
Request an Appointment
At Frederick Dermatology, we can’t wait to find out how we can help you achieve your goals of healthy, beautiful skin. Please use the contact form below to request an appointment with us, and we’ll get back to you shortly.