Melasma is a common skin condition that causes dark, irregular patches on the skin, usually on the face. The condition is more common in women than men and is most frequently seen in people with darker skin tones. While the exact cause of melasma is not fully understood, there are several factors that are believed to contribute to the development of this condition. In this blog post, we’ll explore the causes of melasma and what you can do to prevent and treat it.
Common Etiological Factors
Biology: Hormonal Changes
One of the most common causes of melasma is hormonal changes, particularly during pregnancy. This is known as “pregnancy mask” or “chloasma,” and is caused by increased levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body. Women who take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy may also be at higher risk of developing melasma due to hormonal changes. These color changes can appear almost anywhere including the cheeks, forehead, bridge of the nose, above the upper lip, chip, neck, or decolletage.
Like many other skin conditions, melasma has a genetic component. People with a family history of melasma are more likely to develop the condition themselves, though it doesn’t mean you will certainly develop it. A combination of genetics and lifestyle factors tend to “activate” these genes. Researchers have identified several genes that may be involved in the development of melasma, including those involved in melanin production and regulation. If you happen to know if melsamic qualities run in your family, be sure to take the preventative measures noted in the second half of this blog and be mindful of the lifestyle factors that are more within your control.
Melasma is more common in people with darker skin tones, particularly those of Latin, Asian, or African descent. This is believed to be due to the increased production of melanin in darker skin, as well as the increased sensitivity to UV radiation. It is a myth that if you have more melanin in your skin tone, you don’t need to take the same sun-safety precautions.
Environment: Sun & Heat Exposure
Sun exposure is another major contributor to the development of melasma. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun stimulate the production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. In people with melasma, UV rays can trigger the overproduction of melanin, leading to the formation of dark patches on the skin. Exposure to heat is also a known trigger for melasma.
Lifestyle Irritants: Cosmetics and skincare products
Certain cosmetics and skin care products can also trigger the development of melasma. Products that contain fragrances, dyes, or other irritants can cause inflammation and trigger melanin production. Take note of the things your use and how they make you feel and appear. Some medications, such as certain antibiotics and anti-seizure drugs, can also increase the risk of developing melasma. If you can make a list of possible causes, that could be a good starting point to start ruling out items that are accidentally harmful as a potential skin irritant.
Melasma Prevention Tips
While melasma can be a frustrating condition to deal with, there are several things you can do to prevent and treat it.
The most important thing you can do to prevent melasma is to protect your skin from the sun. This means wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day, even on cloudy days. Even in the “off-season.” It’s also important to wear a hat and protective clothing when you’re outside and to avoid spending time in the sun during peak hours (10 am to 4 pm). A temporary tan does not age well.
Unnecessary sun exposure puts you at greater risk to develop harmful melanomic cells later.
Avoid Hormonal Triggers
If you’re pregnant or taking hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills, talk to your doctor about ways to minimize your risk of developing melasma. This may involve changing your medication or adjusting your dosage.
Use gentle skincare products
To avoid triggering melasma, choose skincare products that are gentle and fragrance-free. Avoid products that contain harsh chemicals or irritants that can cause inflammation and trigger melanin production. Mindfulness around the products you use in your house and on your body is a good habit to develop, especially as microplastics and chemicals seem especially prone to invading our living spaces.
Treat existing melasma
If you already have melasma, there are several treatment options available.
Topical products to treat melasma include retinoids, combined with pigmentation inhibitors
Environ products are specifically formulated to deliver the maximum amount of gentle yet healing and research-backed components into the skin surface. This includes Vitamins A, C, and E, antioxidants, peptides, collagen, and more.
One such superstar cream is the Intence C-Boost Mela-Even Cream, shown to help improve the appearance of uneven skin tone, fine lines, lax and sun-damaged skin. This light, non-greasy, oil-soluble Vitamin C-packed cream can be added or used separately from your daily moisturizer to combat the effects of melasma.
How to Use: 1) First, use its sister product to prep the skin, the Mela-Prep Lotion, on especially darkened areas of the skin in the morning and the evening.
2) Targeted serums, the Mela-Fade Serum System (1 and 2) can then be applied locally to the areas of pigmented areas.
3) Finish with the Intense C-Boost cream on the entire face (if applicable) or locally on the damaged skin areas. Follow with your favorite daily Environ Vitamin A moisturizer and broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day.
Chemical peels involve applying a solution to the skin that causes the top layer to peel away, revealing smoother, more even-toned skin.
All hope is not lost, and there are many ways to tackle the appearance of aging like pigmentation spots. Contact us today for a personalized consultation!
If you liked this blog, stay tuned for more from Corrective Skincare of Southern Nevada
Next Month: “Soothing Self Care for the Skin” and “Targeted Treatments A-Z”
- Chemical Peel Treatment: The Shocking Benefits That You Might Not Know!
- Hyperpigmentation: Everything You Need to Know.