Many of us desire a spotless, clear, soft and smooth skin. But not everyone is fortunate enough to have it. People who have it take a lot of care in order to maintain it. Carelessness and lack of proper care towards your skin can lead to many skin problems. Melasma is one of such major skin problems that can occur due to carelessness.
In Greek “Melas” stands for black. Melasma appears in cheeks, nose, forehead, jaws and upper lips as dark brown or black patches. It also appears in areas that are more exposed to sunlight like hands. Though it can occur to both men and women, its probability of occurrence on a woman is relatively high. To be more precise, it is more common among women living in a geographical zone where the weather usually remains hot. Women with dark skin complexion increase their chances for melasma by upto 200 percent.
Initial signs of this condition start to appear during summer but it becomes more aggressive during winter. This is not an infectious or contagious disease. These dark patches or spots will not feel itchy or irritating. It can however ruin your appearance.
What are the reasons?
- Exposure to excessive sunlight
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Taking estrogen and progesterone pills
- Undergoing certain treatments to avoid pregnancy
- Undergoing Implants surgery
- Some types of medical treatments, for example, special treatments for cancer, using fragrant rich soaps, deodorant, body wash and other beauty products.
- Pregnant women usually have higher secretion of certain hormones such as estrogen during the first nine month period of their pregnancy. These hormones stimulates melanocytes, which can result in melasma.
- Women who undergo progesterone hormone therapy during menopause.
- Using skin products and undergoing skin treatments that cause irritation in skin surface could trigger high levels of melanin production, this can increase the damage caused by melasma.
How to detect melasma?
A good skin doctor can immediately detect a melasma just by looking at the skin condition. If the doctor is not sure, he can use a specialized lamp called “woods lamp” to detect severity of the skin damage.
Can it be cured?
There is no permanent solution or cure to this problem in the scientific world. However, there are some treatments that reduce the impact of this problem on the outer surface of the skin, to make it appear more acceptable. Doctors usually prescribe creams that lighten the skin complexion and steroid ointments. Do not try to treat the condition yourself without Doctor’s directions as using wrong quantities of creams that contain hydroquinone without doctor’s guidance can lead to a skin condition called “exogenous ochronosis”. Additionally, bleaching agents present in this cream can darken the skin. When hydroquinone level increases beyond 4% it can lead to permanent darkness in skin.
Treatments like chemical peel, dermabrasion, and microdermabrasion do fetch good results. But no treatment is a permanent cure for melasma, it will reappear.
Can it be Prevented?
- People with the genetic history of melasma, need to take extra precaution.
- Avoid excessive exposure to direct sunlight.
- Make use of a sunscreen whenever you move outdoors in hot sun. Doctors recommend using SPF 30 sunblock.
- Always wear a hat or cap or carry an umbrella to avoid getting exposed to direct sunlight.
Home Remedies for Melasma
- Mix two teaspoon milk with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and apply it over affected region. Rinse it off after 12 minutes in clean water.
- Mix a little quantity of cactus gel with honey and apply it over dark patches. Wash it off after 30 minutes.
- Boil four teaspoons of oatmeal in 1/2 cup of water, add 1 tablespoon of honey and 8 drops of lemon extract and make it into a fine paste. Apply it over affected skin surface and wash it off after some time.
- Mix two tablespoon sugarcane juice with two tablespoon water and apply it over affected skin surface. Wash it off after 5 minutes with water.