The professional and experienced staff at The Dermatology Clinic offers up-to-date and comprehensive dermatological services for a wide array of skin conditions. We are prepared to treat common skin issues such as melasma.

What is Melasma?

Melasma is characterized by dark, discolored brown patches on the skin. These patches are usually seen on the cheeks, forehead, bridge of the nose, or chin, and occasionally on the neck and forearms.

Symptoms

There are no physical symptoms involved with melasma. However, many individuals with the condition feel self-conscious about the way that the spots look and want to have it eliminated from their face or other parts of the body.

Causes of Melasma

While medical professionals are still unsure about what causes melasma, it is more common in individuals with darker skin and those with a sensitivity to estrogen and progesterone. Sun exposure, stress, and thyroid disease are also thought to be causes of melasma. The condition is common in pregnant women, but the dark patches often fade after the baby has been born.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Generally, a visual exam is enough for a dermatologist to diagnose melasma. Through a device called a Wood’s light, dermatologists are able to see how deeply the melasma penetrates the skin. If a doctor needs to rule out another skin condition, a biopsy may be performed where a small bit of skin is removed for further examination.

Often, melasma fades on its own, such as after pregnancy or after the use of certain birth control pills. However, many individuals have the condition for years or even their entire lives and can choose to have it treated.

Topical melasma treatments include:

  • Hydroquinone – This medication is usually the first treatment for melasma, and lightens the skin through routine application. It can be in cream, lotion, gel, or liquid form, and many are available with or without a dermatologist’s prescription.
  • Tretinoin and corticosteroids – These may be used as a second medicine that also helps lighten the skin. Sometimes these medicines contain hydroquinone, tretinoin, and a corticosteroid in one topical cream.
  • Other topical medicines – A dermatologist may recommend other medications such as azelaic acid or kojic acid, which also help to lighten melasma.

If a patient finds that these topical treatments are not fading the melasma, there are dermatological procedures that can also help. These include chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and dermabrasion. Side effects from these treatments can be discussed with your dermatologist.

Preventing Melasma

Because melasma can be triggered by sun exposure, it is essential to use sun protection when exposed to UV rays outdoors. Those who are prone to the condition should apply SPF 30 or higher sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection and zinc oxide to help limit the effects of UV rays on the skin. Wearing protective clothing when exposed to the sun for long periods of time and using skin care products that do not irritate the skin will also help prevent the condition from worsening.

If you believe the medication that you are taking could be to blame, tell your dermatologist. Switching to another type of birth control could potentially eliminate the skin issue.

Preparing for your Appointment

If you feel self-conscious about your melasma and want to have it treated, a dermatologist can provide the solution. If you have already scheduled an appointment to have your melasma examined, it is helpful to prepare a list of questions for your dermatologists so that you can have full clarity on your condition. Also, be prepared to answer the doctor’s questions regarding symptoms, the frequency of the symptoms, and types of products that you use on your skin.

Schedule Your Appointment

Our clinic has been in business since 1947, meaning you can expect exceptional service and results. Contact The Dermatology Clinic today and let us restore an even glow to your skin.