Our doctors have frequently spoken about melasma as a cause of worry for many patients, as they wonder how to remove melasma on the face. What is melasma actually, how to treat melasma, and how can we differentiate it from other skin pigmentation disorders?
Often called “the mask of pregnancy”, melasma shows up as blue-grey, brown patches, or freckle-like spots, and typically happens due to the overproduction of melanin. Read on to find out what are the important things you need to know about melasma treatment.
Point #1: Melasma is a chronic condition
Yes, melasma is a chronic condition, meaning it may last for 3 months or more. It is also not known what causes melasma. Some people may have it their whole lives, or for a few months. Thankfully, it is harmless and we can take steps to reduce the pigmentation to a minimum. Melasma is a condition that develops slowly over a period of time, which could vary from weeks to years. It frequently goes unnoticed till a patient notices a large patch of hyperpigmentation on the face.
Melasma is typically quite stubborn and can take a few months of treatment to see signs of improvement. With modern science and technology, melasma treatment has advanced over the years, resulting in a significant reduction of pigmentation and a clearer visage.
Point #2: Melasma may recur post-treatment
In your melasma treatment journey, melasma needs to be monitored regularly in the long term, as it can recur even after pigmentation has cleared significantly.
Usually, under the guidance of your doctor, you will be introduced to maintenance therapy, to minimize the chances of melasma from returning. This includes a customized skincare routine and lifestyle plan to avoid the sun as much as possible while using whitening products and sticking to a diet that enables skin rejuvenation.
Do wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat whenever you go out as part of your maintenance routine. Try to avoid any skin inflammation that may worsen melasma, such as waxing.
Point #3: Hormonal factors may aggravate melasma
Melasma treatment can be made more challenging by hormone treatments, pregnancy, menopause, and birth control pills.
Fairer skinned people and women are generally more likely to get melasma. Genes play a factor too, as up to half of melasma sufferers have reported that there are other sufferers in their family.
It often affects pregnant women, hence its name “the mask of pregnancy”. Up to half of the pregnant women may get melasma at some point during their pregnancy. This is because they have increased levels of the hormones, estrogen and progesterone.
Melasma may fade post-pregnancy or if birth control pills are stopped, typically taking 3 or more months to fade away. Conditions such as hyperthyroidism, where your thyroid is inactive, may also cause melasma. Some antiseizure medications may also be a cause of melasma. To help with melasma, ensure you have Vitamin D which keeps your skin healthy in general. This could be from a Vitamin D supplement, or from foods such as cereals, eggs, meat, and fish.
Point #4: Reduce exposure to sun and UV
Dark spots on the face are usually caused by too much sun exposure. The skin epidermis contains cells called melanocytes that produce melanin, the pigment which gives your skin colour. These cells produce more melanin in response to the presence of ultraviolet radiation.
Melasma can occur on any part of your skin that is exposed to the sun, though it commonly appears on your chin, cheeks, nose, forehead, or above the upper lip. Hence, you may want to cut down on screen time in front of your LED screen television, tablet, mobile phone and computer. One way would be to get anti-glare filters for all your devices. These filters eliminate UV rays and have the added benefit of reducing eye strain.
Point #5: Melasma is best treated with a doctor’s guidance
Melasma is a benign and harmless dermatological condition. However, it does occur in varying severity.
Mild melasma which does not cause you distress can be treated at home using topical skin lightening creams. Moderate to severe melasma may progress quite quickly in some patients, causing distress and affecting one’s self-esteem.
There are typically 3 types of melasma, varying in depth: epidermal, dermal, and mixed melasma. Epidermal melasma has a dark brown colour and is pretty visible. Dermal melasma has a light brown colour, blurry border, and may not respond well to treatment. Mixed melasma is the most common – it shows up as bluish brown patches and shows only some response to treatment.
Hence, it is ideal to consult a doctor to determine the severity of your melasma and discuss a holistic pigmentation removal treatment program. In particular, it is best to seek guidance from the doctor regarding the customization of a maintenance program post pigmentation removal.
We hope this article clears up your doubts and provides you with important things you need to know about melasma treatment! Would you like to find out more about how to remove melasma? Consult our friendly and competent Singapore-certified doctors at Eeva Medical Aesthetic Clinic, who have many years of experience in clearing patients’ doubts about how to treat hyperpigmentation.