The word melasma stems from the Greek word melas, which means black. While the condition can affect adults of both genders and all ethnicities, it’s most common in women and people with darker skin tones who live in sunny climates. Although medical professionals don’t yet fully understand the specific causes of melasma, several factors are known to increase the likelihood of developing the condition, including:
Melasma is usually more pronounced in the summer, when the sun is closer, and less noticeable during the winter, when the sun is further away. It’s important to note that melasma is not an infection, and it isn’t contagious, cancerous, or precancerous, and it doesn’t stem from an allergy.
The physicians at Easton Dermatology Associates can generally diagnose melasma with relative ease, as the characteristics of its pigmentation and typical distribution pattern on your face are trademark signs of the condition. Although melasma may appear on any area of skin that gets a substantial amount of sun exposure, it most often appears on the bridge of the nose, forehead, cheeks, and above the upper lip. If your dermatologist needs to rule out other possible diagnoses before confirming a suspected case of melasma, they may take a tiny sample of your skin to examine under the microscope.
Even though melasma can’t be cured, there are several ways you can significantly improve its appearance. Protection from ultraviolet light is one of the best ways to keep the condition in check, so, first and foremost, keep your sun exposure to a minimum. When you do plan to be outside for prolonged periods of time, use a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or above, and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
Prescription skin lightening creams are commonly used to reduce the appearance of melasma. These products contain certain chemicals, such as hydroquinone, that reduce the activity of pigment-forming skin cells. Skin lightening creams should be used with caution, however, as they can cause irritation or excessive skin lightening.
If you want to diminish the appearance of melasma as much as possible, the team at Easton Dermatology Associates provides advanced laser treatments that can get the job done safely, efficiently, and effectively. Icon™ laser technology is an excellent option for melasma treatment because it doesn’t produce heat, which could potentially increase inflammation and make the condition worse.
Instead, the Icon laser delivers short-pulse light waves into your skin that break up darker pigmentations into tiny particles that are then absorbed and eliminated by your immune system. After completing a series of laser treatments, you should see substantial improvement in melasma-related hyperpigmentation.
At Easton Dermatology Associates, we accept most major insurance plans. Here is a list of some of the plans we accept. Please contact our office if you do not see your insurance provider listed.