"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Dark spots on the face may be melasma.

You could have heard that melasma known as the “mask of pregnancy” since it is typically triggered by a rise in hormones in pregnant women. But while the condition may be common amongst pregnant women, you don't must be pregnant to experience melasma.

Melasma may be difficult to treat.

Although melasma shouldn’t be painful and poses no health risk, it could possibly cause significant emotional distress. Dr. Kurosh says the condition may be difficult to treat, and there's a number of misinformation about its causes.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you're more prone to have melasma if you’ve gotten a darker skin tone, probably because your skin naturally has more lively pigment-producing cells. Melasma appears when these cells develop into overactive and produce an excessive amount of pigment in certain areas of the skin. Melasma is more common in women, but it could possibly affect men as well. It could have a genetic component, because it often runs in families.

Causes of Melasma

Dr. Korosh says there are various different causes of melasma. Two specifically stand out:

  • Hormones (including hormonal drugs). Fluctuations in certain hormones could cause melasma, which is why it often occurs while pregnant. Dr. Gilchrist says melasma may occur once you either start or stop hormonal contraception, including contraception pills, or once you take hormone alternative therapy.
  • Sun exposure. The sun is the largest offender in triggering melasma. “Underlying factors such as hormonal changes may not show up until someone goes on vacation to a southern location like Florida, or during the summer when they spend a lot of time in the sun,” says Dr. Korosh. are “The sun is a major increasing factor, whatever the underlying cause.” Melasma may be caused or worsened not only by the sun's rays, but additionally by heat and visual light. This signifies that even sunscreens that protect against skin cancer aren't enough to forestall melasma, Dr. Korosh says. This makes treating melasma a challenge, especially throughout the summer months.

Finding the Cause of Melasma

The first step is to substantiate that the dark spots are indeed melasma and take a look at to discover the cause. Melasma treatment is unlikely to be effective if the underlying cause shouldn’t be addressed, says Dr. Korosh. “Even the oral treatments that are now available for severe cases of melasma are really pointless to do, if there's still a trigger,” she says. “We take a thorough medical history to find out what's causing the melasma,” says Dr. Korosh. Then adjustments are made. If hormonal contraception is causing the issue, a lady may consider switching to a non-hormonal option, corresponding to a copper intrauterine device.

Medications and treatment of conditions

Some commonly used options are topical retinols and retinoid treatments, that are applied to the skin to assist speed up your body's natural cell turnover process. This may also help the dark spots clear up faster on their very own. In addition, some doctors may prescribe bleaching agents, corresponding to hydroquinone, which works by blocking melanin production. But while hydroquinone products may be purchased over-the-counter, they need to only be used under a physician's supervision and only on dark areas of skin. “High doses of hydroquinone can cause white patches on the skin,” says Dr. Gilchrist. The drug may even cause skin darkening in some cases. Other topical lightening agents (corresponding to kojic acid or azelaic acid) could also be beneficial. Other treatment options may include chemical peels, laser treatments, and microneedling of the skin. But for the time being they're not reliably effective, says Dr. Gilchrist.

An vital a part of treatment: protect the skin from the sun.

It may be very vital to forestall the sun from worsening this condition. This may require extreme diligence. “The sun is more powerful than any medicine I can give you,” says Dr. Korosh. The most significant strategy to clear up melasma is to make use of a powerful sunscreen. But remember that not all sunscreens are created equal. To prevent melasma, you would like a sunscreen that not only blocks the sun's rays, but additionally its light and warmth, corresponding to zinc or titanium dioxide. Chemical sunscreens don't offer the identical protection for melasma, and in some cases, they will even trigger allergic reactions that could make melasma worse, she says.