We all dream of flawless, even-toned skin, and quickly cover up even the smallest imperfections whenever possible. But if you have melasma, the imperfections are anything but small — they sprawl across your face in hard-to-hide brown and gray patches that give your skin a mottled, blotchy appearance.
At Easton Dermatology Associates in Easton and Salisbury, Maryland, our team of specialists help women and men lose the patchwork and reclaim their single-toned skin using the most advanced treatments. Here’s what you need to know.
Melasma is a skin condition that produces hyperpigmentation. Here’s a rundown of melasma basics.
- Melasma affects women roughly nine times more often than men.
- People with dark skin tones are more susceptible to melasma.
- Sun exposure exacerbates melasma.
- Hormone treatments, such as birth control, may trigger melasma.
- Pregnancy often triggers melasma and is nicknamed “the mask of pregnancy.”
- Melasma appears most often on the cheeks, forehead, upper lip, and chin.
- Melasma is most common in women between the ages of 20-50.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for melasma, but there are ways to dramatically reduce its appearance and make living with it much easier.
How to reduce the appearance of melasma
Many melasma sufferers hide their patchy skin with makeup, and these days, COVID masks offer the added perk of covering melasma as well. But these temporary fixes do nothing to solve the problem. Here are the most effective treatments for melasma.
Avoid sun exposure
Because exposure to the sun can both cause and worsen melasma, the first step in diminishing the appearance of the brown patches is to avoid excessive sun exposure. The ultraviolet light in the sun’s rays stimulates the melanocytes in your skin, so even if you’ve treated your melasma and it has faded into the background, all it takes is a small amount of sun exposure to bring all those uneven tones back to the surface.
To keep your melasma calm, avoid sun exposure, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, and wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face.
Prescription-strength topical treatments
Certain medicated creams can counteract the hyperpigmentation caused by melasma. The most commonly prescribed topical treatment contains hydroquinone, which can slow down the activity in your cells that form pigment.
Unfortunately, this and other similar lightening creams can also cause the opposite problem — hypopigmentation, which is overly whitened skin. Some topical treatments can also be harsh on your skin and cause irritation.
Cessation of hormone therapy
Melasma caused by a hormone imbalance, such as is common during pregnancy, often fades away once the hormones return to their normal levels.
If you take hormones for birth control or other therapeutic reasons, you may find your melasma goes away when you stop taking them for a while.
One of the most effective ways to banish your melasma blotches is to undergo light-based laser therapy. Our team uses the most advanced technology available to gently direct short-pulse light waves into the layers of skin to break up the clumps of melanin and free your body to flush them away.
We trust and use the Icon™ laser system by Cynosure® to safely and effectively treat your melasma in just a few sessions, so you can finally see clear, even-toned skin again.
Find out which treatment or combination of treatment options is best for your melasma. To schedule an appointment, contact us today by calling 410-819-8867. Our offices are located on the Eastern Shore in Easton and Salisbury Maryland.