What is Melasma and How It is Treated?

Melasma or pigmentation is a condition where a tiny portion of the skin surface undergoes discoloration. This discoloration varies from light brown to black in color. It can appear in forehead, eyebrows, nose, cheeks, and thigh regions. It can sometimes ruin your beauty. It occurs to both men and women, but it is more common in women over men. There is a superficial belief in some families in India that melasma leads to unhealthy relationships. But it is a purely baseless claim.

So why does this happen? and how to treat this condition?

Reasons for Melasma or Pigmentation

  • It can happen due to genetic reasons. If any of your family members in your bloodline is affected by melasma, then there is a good chance that it can happen to you as well.
  • One of the major contributing factors for melasma is sunlight. The ultraviolet radiations present in the sunlight can penetrate your skin surface and attack the fat layer in it, this leads to the production of free radicals in the skin leading to dark patches.
  • Ultraviolet radiations will break the cell walls in the skin and make the melanocytes to produce more melanin and decolorize the skin. But not just that UV rays in sunlight will increase the production of melanocyte triggering hormones such as a-MSH and Corticotrophin. These hormones will further increase the production of melanin from melanocytes.
  • A recent research revealed that people with hypo and hyperthyroidism have high chances of developing melasma.
  • Another research reveals people who go through sudden stress and shock may also develop melasma.
  • Some chemical compounds present in beauty and cosmetic products can trigger this condition as well.
  • As the majority of victims of melasma are women, it is believed that estrogen and progesterone hormones secreted in women play a major role in its formation.
  • As nearly 15 to 50 percent of pregnant women are affected by this condition, it is also called as Mask of Pregnancy.
  • People who consume birth control pills can have this skin condition.
  • Melasma can appear in the epidermal layer for some people and for some it can appear in the inner dermal layer. Melasma present in the outer layer (Epidermis) are 100 percent curable through skin creams, but pigments present in the inner dermal layer can only be cured up to 50 percent.

How to treat melasma?

  1. No matter what type of melasma you got, you need to use sunscreen while going out in the sun. Also, you need to use Broad Spectrum Sunscreens that protects you from both UV-B and UV-A rays.
  2. The primary treatment for this skin condition is called as Kligmann Regime. In this Doctor will prescribe for a skin cream that contains three types of medicines. This skin cream must be used based on Doctor’s directions. For some people, this cream might trigger itchy sensation. So it should only be used with Doctor’s advice.
  3. Once the melasma has subsided a little Kligmann regime can be stopped and the Doctors will prescribe for a little milder skin cream that contains Kojic acid, arbutin etc. This will prevent future occurrence of melasma.
  4. For some individuals, no creams will fetch any results. Those individuals can opt for Chemical peel and laser treatments.
  5. Latest studies found out Tranexamic acid was effective in bringing down severe pigmentation in the skin.