Many of us desire a spotless, clear and hygienic skin. But not everyone is fortunate to have it, even if you have it, it is not an easy to task to maintain it. Melasma is one of the major skin problems that occurs due to carelessness and lack of proper care.
In greek “Melas” stands for black. We would have noticed dark black or brown patches in many older people’s skin surface, mainly in the face region. This is called as melasma. It appears in cheeks, nose, forehead, jaws and upper lips. Apart from these regions it also appears in areas that are more exposed to sunlight like hands. It appears in both men and women. But women have a high probability of having it. Particularly women living in a geographical zone that are too hot, also a woman who has dark complexion increase their chances of having melasma.
It usually starts to show signs during the summer season and 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. But many people do hate it when it occurs.
What are the reasons?
- Exposure to excess sunlight
- Undergoing hormone treatments. Taking estrogen and progesterone pills, undergoing hormone replacement therapy and using Copper T equipments to avoid pregnancy, having implant surgery are common reasons for melasma.
- Some types of medical treatments, for example, special treatments for cancer, using fragrant rich soaps, deodorant, body wash and other beauty products.
- For first nine months of pregnancy, women will have excess secretion of hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and other hormones that trigger melanocytes. Resulting changes in the skin can lead to 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 surface. If the doctor is not sure, he can use a specialized lamp called “woods lamp” to detect how deep is the damage to the skin surface.
Can it be cured?
There is no permanent solution to this problem yet. But there are some treatments that reduce the impact of this problem on the outer surface of the skin, to make it more acceptable. Doctors usually prescribe creams that lighten the skin surface and steroid ointments. Using wrong quantities of creams that contain hydroquinone without doctor’s direction can lead to “exogenous ochronosis” problem. Bleaching agents present in this cream can darken the skin even more. 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 background of melasma, need to take extra precaution.
- Exposure to excessive levels of sunlight can help to prevent melasma.
- Using SPF 30 sunscreen is advisable.
- Using caps that prevents the face from exposure to direct sunlight.
Home Remedies for Melasma
- Mix two teaspoon milk with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and apply it over melasma. Wash it off after 12 minutes in clean water.
- Mix a little quantity of cactus gel with honey and apply it over melasma. 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 melasma. Wash it off after 5 minutes.