If you’ve ever wondered “what are these brown patches on my face”, you may want to read on, because the chances are, you could be dealing with a skin condition called melasma. In this article, we’re going to dive into how to treat melasma and what it is.
What is Melasma?
Melasma is a skin condition, in which brown and grey patches form on the skin, more commonly on the face.
Also known as chloasma or ‘pregnancy mask’, this kind of pigmentation is more common in women and especially women who are pregnant. This is because the condition can directly be affected by hormonal changes in the body.
The most common places to find melasma are; on the forehead, cheeks, around the lips and also around the bridge of the nose.
Anyone can experience melasma, however it is more prominent for people with darker skin to experience it. This is due to how active the melanocytes are. These are the cells that produce melanin, the pigment that causes skin to appear darker in colour.
Melasma can also be triggered by heat, so you’re more likely to notice it during the summer months as opposed to milder seasons like autumn and winter.
Although the discolouration of melasma can raise concerns, it is not a harmful or life-threatening skin condition.
Is there a Cure for Melasma?
Unfortunately, there is not yet a known cure for melasma, which means it can only be managed.
What Causes Melasma?
There are several different triggers that can cause melasma. These can be:
This could be due to pregnancy, because hormones directly stimulate an increased production of melanin. Thyroid issues and birth control can also play a role in affecting our hormones, causing melasma to appear.
Treatments such as hormone replacement therapy can possibly have an impact that aggravates the skin condition.
Heat and Sun-exposure
UV rays and heat have a direct impact on melasma. When skin is overexposed to the sun, it produces excess melanin as a way of protection.
How to Treat Melasma?
Melasma can only be managed since medical professionals do not know its exact cause and cure.
The best thing that you can do for your skin if you’re dealing with melasma is to make sure that it is protected at all times.
Be sure to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen on a daily basis, taking care to top up your SPF throughout the day. This will protect your skin from harmful UV rays which ultimately make hyperpigmentation worse. The very minimum sun protection you should be using is SPF30.
You should also avoid spending prolonged periods of time in direct sunlight. Spend time in the shade, wear protective hats and clothing and keep yourself cool throughout the day.
As a part of your daily skincare routine, you can incorporate ingredients that work to block overproduction of melanin, these are known as tyrosinase inhibitors:
There are many more skincare ingredients and products that work to even and brighten the skin.
Treatments such as laser, chemical peels and micro-needling tend to help speed up the skin cell turnover process, revealing clearer, more even skin.
Melasma is a harmless skin condition that results in brown and grey patches on this skin. Although there is no cure, you can stay on top of it and manage it with adequate sun protection and melanin-blocking skincare products.