Dark or discolored patches of facial skin are often the result of a condition known as melasma. These gray-brown areas usually appear on the forehead, cheeks, bridge of the nose, chin, and above the upper lip, but can show up anywhere your skin is exposed to the sun. When the melanocytes (cells within the skin) produce too much pigmentation, melasma occurs.
While the exact cause of melasma is unknown, it appears to be an interaction between hormones and the sun. We know that the sun is necessary for development of melasma, and sun exposure darkens these spots. Melasma is often triggered by hormonal changes, and is more common in women. It often first appears during or after pregnancy, when taking oral contraceptives, or at other times when a woman’s hormones fluctuate. However, it can crop up for no obvious reason, and men can suffer from melasma as well.
While melasma is not life-threatening, people are often self-conscious about it. It is natural to want to treat it. Protection from the sun is the best prevention and treatment for melasma. This includes avoiding exposure whenever possible, wearing a wide-brimmed hat outdoors, applying sunscreen (broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher) each day, and reapplying it at regular intervals.
Melasma may fade naturally with time; however persistent pigmentation requires treatment. Non-prescription preparations containing botanical and natural lightening agents may fade mild cases. Your dermatologist can prescribe creams containing hydroquinone, tretinoin, or azelaic acid. Chemical peels, light and laser therapies are effective for restoring even skin tone and coloration.
Talk with the professionals at Sanova Dermatology to learn more about melasma treatment regimen that is right for you.
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