Melasma is a skin condition that causes dark patches of skin. It’s commonly triggered by hormonal changes during pregnancy. However, anyone can develop melasma regardless of pregnancy.
Melasma typically appears on sun-exposed areas of skin, most commonly the cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead.
If you notice signs of melasma and are seeking diagnosis and treatment, dermatology specialist Yvonne Hines, MD, can help. Here at Hines Dermatology, Dr. Hines evaluates and treats skin conditions that range from simple to stubborn, rare, and complex. Melasma is often stubborn, but the right treatment can help to restore clear, healthy skin.
What causes melasma?
Exactly what causes skin cells to become overactive in melasma remains a mystery. It’s thought that hormones play a role in the development of melasma. Women are much more likely to develop melasma than men.
Hormones may cause skin cells to become overactive when they’re exposed to ultraviolet light. These melanin-producing cells clump together, causing dark spots (hyperpigmentation). Melasma is often unpredictable. Dark spots may slow up gradually over time, or strike suddenly.
What are the symptoms of melasma?
Melasma causes blotchy, uneven skin color. Patches develop that are darker than your normal skin tone. In some cases, patches of discoloration are only slightly darker than the rest of your skin. Sometimes, however, patches are extremely dark compared with your normal skin color.
Melasma patches are flat and don’t itch, burn, or cause any pain. Aside from the visual appearance, melasma doesn’t cause any physical symptoms.
In melasma, patches are symmetrical. They appear the same shape and size on both sides of the body. The face is most often affected, but melasma can also develop on the arms, chest, and upper back.
Treatment for melasma
There are a number of available treatments for melasma. Dr. Hines recommends an appropriate treatment plan after a thorough evaluation of your skin. Topical medications are the primary approach to treating melasma. They include:
- Topical corticosteroids
- Azelaic acid
- Tranexamic acid
Dr. Hines discusses the best treatment for your unique skin, and she may also recommend an in-office treatment, such as a chemical peel or microdermabrasion to treat your melasma.
Protecting your skin
Along with treatment, protecting your skin from UV rays plays an important role in managing melasma. Dr. Hines discusses a sun protection routine to keep your skin healthy and minimize the risk of triggering or exacerbating your melasma.
It’s generally recommended to use 30 SPF sunscreen or higher each day. Even on cloudy days, the sun’s UV rays are still invisibly penetrating your skin. Spending just a few hours outdoors without protection can trigger melasma.
When you want to put your best face forward, melasma can impact your self-image. If you’re struggling with blotchy, patches of dark or uneven skin, we can help.
Reach out to our Attleboro office by calling 508-222-1976 to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Hines. Online booking is also available here on our website.