Dermal Melasma: A Common Condition with Many Treatment Options

Are you one of the estimated six million women in America who suffer from patches of blotchy skin on your face, neck, or jawline?

If so, you may have a condition known as melasma. “Melasma is generally considered a cosmetic skin condition in which the melanocytes, or pigment generating cells in the skin, produce excess melanin,” explains Dr. Miriam Hanson, board certified dermatologist and aesthetic skin expert at Sanova Dermatology. This melanin manifests as blotches of dark skin.

“Although melasma may be found in any part of the body that has heavy sun exposure, such has the back of the neck and arms, it is most often found on the cheeks, around the eyes, and forehead,” shares Dr. Hanson.

Melasma has been related to estrogen hormone in the body. Common causes of this condition are pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy, and the use of birth control pills. In fact, the condition is so common among pregnant women that it has been referred to as a ‘pregnancy mask’.

Types of Melasma

The two most common forms of melasma are dermal melasma and epidermal melasma. Dermal melasma is melasma that occurs between the inner layers of the skin, in the region between the epidermis, or outer layer of skin, and the subcutaneous layers. Epidermal melasma is melasma that occurs on the outer layer of skin.

“Of these two types, epidermal melasma is the easiest to treat,” states Dr. Hanson. “Treatment options include such things as bleaching agents or chemical peels,” she continues. Dermal melasma, due to its location within deeper skin layers, has historically been much harder to treat.

Treatment Options

However, new advances in laser skin treatments have led to dramatic improvements in the treatment of dermal melasma. Laser uses a specialized light to selectively destroy the excess melanin in the area being treated. “A series of laser treatments can result in marked improvement, with a reduction of the appearance of dark patches on the skin,” notes Dr. Hanson.

However, while the condition can be controlled, it is important to note that it is not always curable. For many patients, melasma is a recurrent condition that will require regular maintenance treatments by your dermatologist to maintain the desired results.

Contact Us

Contact us at Sanova Dermatology for more information on melasma or any concerns you may have about your skin health. Our skilled professionals are dedicated to providing our patients with the best care possible.

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