MELASMA: Melasma is a very common patchy brown, tan, or blue-gray facial skin discoloration, usually seen in women in the reproductive years. It typically appears on the upper cheeks, upper lip, forehead, and chin of women 20-50 years of age.
- Melasma is characterized by three location patterns (central face, cheekbone, and jawline).This implies that Melasma typically appears on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin and upper lip and rarely on other sun-exposed parts of the body, such as the forearms.
- Melasma is among the top five leading dermatologic conditions in Asia. It is quite common in women and rarely affects males.
- Melasma is mostly observed in women during or post pregnancy and hence melasma is also known as the mask of pregnancy.
TYPES OF MELASMA
There are three different types of melasma namely:
- Epidermal melasma: Affects the epidermal layer of the skin and pigmentation is generally brown in color.
- Dermal melasma: Affects the dermal layer of skin and pigmentation is generally gyeyish-brown in colour.
- Mixed melasma: Affects both epidermal and dermal layers of skin and are the hardest to treat.
Discoloured irregular patches (darker than the skin colour) on the:
- Bridge of the nose
Note: Melasma patches are usually symmetrical, with matching marks on both sides of the face.
Melasma is caused by the over-production of the pigment melanin. Whilst the condition usually occurs as a response to hormonal changes, such as pregnancy, birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Other major contributing factors are:
- Sun exposure
- Genetic predisposition and
Most of the times people misinterpret early signs/patches/spots of melasma for sun tan hence it is very important to consult a dermatologist immediately, if you observe any discolored marks on your skin.
Melasma is usually diagnosed by a dermatologist visually or with assistance of a Wood’s lamp/ Dermatoscope. Wood’s lamp assists in assessing how deeply melasma has penetrated the skin.
Depending on the severity of melasma it is mostly treated using one or all of the following –
- If the patient is taking contraceptive pills, hormone therapy then some changes are made in the medication.
- Prescribed tropical creams eg: tretinoin, corticosteroids, azelaic acid, kojic acid etc.
- Specific laser therapy
- Chemical peels
It takes time for melasma treatment to take effect – weeks rather than days – so be patient, consistent and persistent.
Consult your Dermatologist:
- If you see light colored spots.
- If you have a face tan that does not go away.
Dr. T. K. Gupta (MD, Skin)
To prevent further darkening of melasma patches you must follow these simple rules
- Use sunscreen (with a high SPF) regularly
- Wear Outdoor hats when in sun
- Use Gentle skin care products
CLICK THE LINK TO READ OUR: DO’s & DON’Ts for people suffering from Melasma
COMMON QUERIES- RESOLVED
Q1) Is melasma contagious?
Ans: No, melasma is not contagious. Melasma is caused by melanogenesis which causes the excess color in the skin.
Q2) Does melasma have a genetic link?
Ans: There seems to be some genetic correlation in those who develop melasma. If you have close family and relatives who have had this condition, you may be more likely to develop melasma.
Q3) Can melasma be fully cured?
Ans: It’s a chronic condition that develops slowly and can be difficult to treat. The gradual disappearance of dark patches is based on creating the right treatment combination for each individual and consistent protection from further exposure to the sun. Always consult a dermatologist for designing your treatment plan never go for self medication or over the counter prescriptions by people.
CLICK THE LINK TO READ OUR: Home Remedies for Melasma
PLZ Note: At times age spots, sun spots and freckles can also be mistaken by people for melasma. But remember Melasma patches are usually symmetrical, with matching marks on both sides of the face.