Procedure

Melasma Treatment- Dermatology

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Melasma is defined as a form of skin discoloration, such as dark or brown patches or spots. The parts of the body that are always exposed to the sun are usually affected. Getting rid of melasma is not impossible if you use the appropriate treatments.

If melasma is caused by pregnancy or by using oral contraceptives, you don’t have to worry because it will later fade on its own. But if skin discoloration bothers you everyday, treatments may be needed. Treatments include:

Hydroquinone

This medication can help lighten skin. It comes in a cream, lotion, gel or liquid. Hydroquinone is available over-the-counter, but a higher concentration may be prescribed by your doctor.

Tretinoin and corticos­teroids

These medications can be combined with hydroquinone to have great effects on skin lightening. A cream may contain three compounds—hydroquinone, tretinoin and a corticos­teroid—which is then called a "triple cream."

Other topical medications

Also applied to the skin, these may include skin-lighteners such as azelaic acid or kojic acid.

In-office procedures

When the above medications don’t have effects on your skin, you can consult a dermatol­ogist. A dermatologisy will use a chemical peel, microder­mabrasion or dermabrasion treatment, which will slough off the top layers of the skin. It should be noted that irritation itself could produce more pigment on the skin. Melasma will go away after proper treatment.

Why is melasma treatment required?

Melasma happens when melanin exceeds its levels on the skin. Those with darker skin tones are bound to have it.

Which doctor to consult?

Melasma should be treated by dermatologists. They can help you get rid of melasma and help you understand treatment.

What to expect during the procedure?

Doctors can easily diagnose melasma just by simply looking at your skin discoloration. Some may also use a black light or Wood's light (340-400 nm) to assist in diagnosing melasma but these tools are not really needed. Some skin hyperpigmentation may need to undergo a skin biopsy.

Skin pigmentation is peeled off by a specially-made chemical followed by light treatment, which will be done by your dermatologist.

Treatment for each skin type is different. There are several treatments from medical-grade products to chemical peels, lasers, light therapy, and penetrating exfoliation. If treatment is designed appropriately for you, you can expect excellent results.

Post-operative care

Maintenance therapy is needed to have great results. These include:

Daily sunscreen use

Use sunscreen to protect areas of the skin that are exposed to sunlight. You can pick a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and apply it when you are exposed to sunlight.

Outdoor hats

Broad-brimmed hats can help you keep away from ultraviolet rays (UVR) that could damage parts of your face. Make sure to cover skin areas that could be exposed to UVR.

Gentle skin care

Buy mild and gentle skin care products to avoid skin irritation, stings or burns.

Complications

Complications after melasma treatments may include temporary skin irritation. Very high concentrations of HQ treatment can develop a side effect called exogenous ochronosis. HQ should be discontinued at the first signs of ochronosis.

References

  • Gary W. Cole, F. (2019). Melasma Treatment, Causes & Home Remedies. Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/melasma/article.htm#what_is_the_treatment_for_melasma
  • Health.com. (2019). Best Melasma Treatments. Retrieved from https://www.health.com/beauty/best-melasma-treatments
  • Melasma Treatment Skin Health Specialist at Charlotte Plastic Surgery. (2019). Melasma Treatment. Retrieved from https://www.charlotteplasticsurgery.com/melasma-treatment/
  • Wegrzyn, K. (2019). Top Tips for Preventing and Treating Melasma. Retrieved from https://www.skininc.com/treatments/facial/brightening/Top-Tips-for-Preventing-and-Treating-Melasma-298167451.html
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