Melasma, sometimes called “pregnancy mask”, is a fairly common skin condition that primarily affects women – in their child bearing years, on birth control, or who have a darker skin type. Melasma consists of the chronic appearance of patchy brown to gray-brown hyperpigmented skin. These areas may be connected or random, and are most prevalent on sun exposed areas of the face. Melasma patches are darker because they have more melanocytes, cells which produce melanin, especially when exposed to UV light. Melasma is considered a chronic condition since after melasma improves, even a small dose of sunlight can cause it to worsen again.
Research provides some insight but no clear answers why melasma affects some people more than others. We do know that certain factors increase your chances of developing melasma, including:
- Family history of melasma.
- Darker skin—Latin, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and African descent.
- Frequent sun exposure.
- Skin irritating chemicals in certain detergents, shampoos, soaps, cosmetics, antiperspirants and hair products.
- Anti-seizure medications or drugs that make the skin more photosensitive.
- Changing hormone levels.
Melasma is a chronic disorder which can’t be totally eradicated. However through a combination of treatments and lifestyle changes, you can have greater control of your melasma. Use of a “heavy metal” sunblock – one with copper, iron, zinc, or titanium oxide; wearing broad-brimmed hats, and avoidance of peak sun exposure can help. The use of fractional laser or Broad Band Light treatments have proven to be beneficial but it’s important to work with a doctor, like Dr. Mudd, who is familiar with melasma, since heat from these modalities can actually cause the hyperpigmentation of melasma to become worse if proper care isn’t taken.
If you desire clear, more even looking skin, then call today to arrange a consult with Dr. Mudd.
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