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Lifting The "Mask" of Melasma
Melasma is a form of hyper-pigmentation, or the darkening of skin on the face, which is often seen during pregnancy or when women are on oral contraceptives. Symptoms of melasma are dark, irregular patches commonly found on the upper cheek, nose, lips, upper lip, and forehead (shaped like a mask).
What we see in these areas is a freckling effect, or what appears to be specks of dirt on the skin. The good news is, melasma is not dangerous, and doesn't have any other symptoms beyond cosmetic discoloration.
The cause of melasma is two-fold:
- the stimulation of melanocytes, or pigment-producing cells, by the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone.
- UV light exposure, which is significantly magnified by living in the Texas “Sun Belt.”
In most cases, the discoloration will not go away on its own, even after giving birth or discontinuing the use of birth control pills.
The unsightly dark patches can be treated with a combination of medical-grade treatments, including:
- hydroquinone (inhibits the production of melanin)
- topical vitamin A (increases cell turnover via exfoliation)
- azelaic/kojic acid (decreases the activity of melanocytes)
- glycolic/lactic acid (lightens while stimulating rapid cell turnover)
- mandelic acid (lightens while stimulating rapid cell turnover; especially effective at treating dermal melasma)
At SkinFit Austin, we treat epidermal melasma with a series of Lightening Peels, using a combination of lactic acid, kojic acid, azelaic acid, and glycolic acid with a melanin suppressant.
Home treatment would include hydroquinone combined with topical vitamin A plus mandelic acid.
Of course, your treatment won’t be effective for long if you don’t add a high-quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen to your morning protocol. Find one you like, and use it daily!
In addition to applying sunscreen, we recommend mineral makeup because it has the highest physical sunblock of any makeup line. The combination of a liquid sunscreen and a powder mineral sunblock will keep you protected from the sun and prevent your melama from returning.