Melasma, also referred to as "the mask of pregnancy" is a very stubborn skin condition that affects millions of Americans each year. It causes dark pigmentation to appear in patches on the forehead, cheeks, upper lip, chin, and jawline, resulting in a "mask-like" appearance. Although not as common, Melasma can also appear on other areas of the body such as the forearms. Melasma is more common in women and people with darker skin types that tan easily, but it occurs in people of any ethnicity. The exact cause of melasma varies from person to person and is not always known. In general, it is usually hormonally induced, often occurring from pregnancy, birth control pills, thyroid dysfunction, menopause, or hormone replacement therapy. In some cases Melasma is caused by a reaction to various drugs or skincare products. Exposure to sunlight is an important factor in the development of Melasma, and without strict avoidance and protection from sunlight, it is extremely difficult to treat.
Melasma pigment resides much deeper in the skin than freckles, sunspots, and age spots. Therefore the process of lifting and lightening the pigment is much longer. It sometimes takes three to six months of treatment before seeing any improvement. Although this is a difficult condition to treat, with time and consistent treatment including home care, pigmentation improvements can be made.
There is no cure for Melasma but there are many ways to improve and control it. Research has suggested that repeated light chemical peels may be the best treatment. Gentle chemical peels specifically formulated to treat pigmentation will encourage cellular turnover, helping to lift the existing pigment and bring new healthy cells to the surface. It is very important that over-treatment is avoided, as anything too aggressive actually stimulates the already overactive melanocytes (the pigment producing cells) and makes melasma worse.
If your esthetician determines that chemical peels are not the best treatment for you we have other effective options. Silkpeel Dermalinfusion is a type of microdermabrasion that offers crystal-free exfoliation, deep cleansing and evacuation of pores, which decreases pigment production. Silkpeels are perfect for expectant mothers or those with very dry skin that may be over-irritated by chemical peels.
For clients seeking to treat melasma in conjunction with sun damage, Fraxel re:store resurfacing would be an excellent treatment. The Fraxel Re: store laser is FDA approved for the treatment of Melasma. Fraxel uses pinpoint laser beams beneath the skin to eliminate old, damaged skin cells which cause the body to replace these cells with new ones. Fraxel can greatly reduce the appearance of melasma in one to three treatments.
The products you use at home for your skin are extremely important in the treatment of Melasma. Our office carries a variety of products specifically formulated for melasma and pigmentation problems that are anti-inflammatory and help suppress pigment production.
Sun exposure will exacerbate Melasma; therefore wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen everyday is required. Our PCA Perfecting Protection SPF 30 will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. With the addition of five pigment inhibitors including bearberry, licorice root extract, kojic acid, lactic acid and mulberry root extract, the discoloration will be reduced while preventing future pigmentation.
We are ready to help you take control of your Melasma and offer complimentary consultations with our Master Estheticans who will create a skincare program just for you. If you would like to discuss your options including both in-office treatments and at-home care, please schedule an appointment today!