Melasma is a common skin condition, especially for women. Of all the people who have melasma, some sources report that 90 percent are women. The condition appears as brown or gray patches that mainly form on the forehead, nose, cheeks and chin. Other parts of the body that are regularly exposed to direct sunlight can also develop melasma, such as the forearms and neck.
One of the reasons women are more prone to developing melasma is because it can be triggered by hormones. It is so common during pregnancy that it is also called the mask of pregnancy. Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can also trigger melasma. Thyroid disease and stress have been linked to the development of melasma in some individuals. It is more common in people with darker skin than in people with very fair skin, and people who have family members with melasma may be likely to develop it.
Melasma is not dangerous, but it can cause people to become self-conscious about their appearance. A visual exam is the most common way to diagnose it, but there are also some tests to determine how many layers of skin the coloration effects. In certain cases, a biopsy may be done with a small amount of affected skin. When you have a consultation with our specialist, you may learn about the different treatment options.
The most common treatment is topical creams that contain chemicals to lighten the skin. If these creams do not work, we may recommend laser skin rejuvenation. There are some things that our specialist may recommend that can be done to minimize the appearance and make sure it does not worsen, such as using makeup to cover the affected areas or taking prescribed medication.
The sun is a major factor for developing melasma, because ultraviolet light waves may increase melanin production. We recommend that you wear sunscreen every day and reapply it every two hours. Sometimes, sunscreen is not enough, and we recommend you also wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and clothing that protects your arms.
Whatever treatment is right for you, it may remove the melasma you have now, but the condition can return if you are not careful. This may require follow-up visits and following certain skin treatment guidelines to help reduce the risk of the discoloration returning.
If you have melasma on your face and it makes you feel self-conscious about your appearance, the medical professionals at Guelph Medical Laser and Skin Centre may be able to help you remove it completely so that you have clear skin again. Contact our office in Guelph today to schedule your consultation.