Melasma and 7 Most Efficient Ways of Treating It
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Melasma is a skin discolouration condition characterized by dark patches or greyish-brown blemishes. The discolouration mostly affects the face. The areas commonly affected are the chin, upper cheeks, forehead, nose, and upper lip.
Melasma is rarely found in men but is common in women between 20 and 50 years of age. It is caused by overproduction of melanin which can be linked to exposure to UV rays, racial/familial disposition and hormonal imbalance due to pregnancy and use of birth control pills.
In some people, melasma reduces naturally without any treatment. In others, mitigation measures such as the use of sunscreen and avoiding UV exposure clear melasma in due course. However, there are cases that are so stubborn that treatment is inevitable.
Having melasma should not be a life sentence though; there are many effective ways of treating melasma. This article is about melasma and 7 most efficient ways of treating it.
Hydroquinone is one of the best melasma treatments in the market. However, its use has been associated with health concerns. It is allowed in OTC melasma treatment creams in concentrations of up to 2% in some countries and banned for use in cosmetic products in other countries and regions. Any skin products containing hydroquinone above 2% necessitate a prescription from a licensed dermatologist.
Hydroquinone creams are normally applied on the blemishes two times every day, or as advised by the dermatologist. Clinical studies reveal that epidermal types of melasma respond better to treatment compared to other types because the pigmentation is closer to the skin surface.
2 Azelaic Acid
Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring dicarboxylic acid that is packed with a host of benefits for your skin. When it comes down to treating hyperpigmentation, AzA can stand among the best treatments for melasma.
Azelaic acid is a great alternative to Hydroquinone. For skin hyperpigmentation treatments, research has shown that AzA acid produces better results than Hydroquinone and is not associated with effects linked to the latter such as photosensitivity and exogenous ochronosis.
AzA is applied once daily on a cleansed skin. Mild irritation is normal but it should subside with time.
3 Natural Skin Lightening Creams/Serums
These are products that contain ingredients extracted from plants. Such ingredients may include arbutin, kojic acid, licorice extract, citrus extract, niacinamide and mulberry extract among others.
Mostly, the creams combine two or more of these ingredients to enhance their ability to lighten hyperpigmented skin. They may work by slowing down melanin production, sloughing off dead skin and encouraging skin regeneration among other mechanisms.
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The natural skin lightening creams are usually applied twice daily or as per the directions. They may take a few weeks or months to give results and require constant use to maintain the results.
4 Chemical Peels
As the name suggests, chemical peels work by peeling a layer or layers of hyperpigmented skin to give room for newer and lighter skin. This involves the application of an acidic solution on the skin that makes the skin to peel off.
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Different types of chemical peels with varied concentrations are available to treat diversified skin types. Glycolic acid peels with concentration ranging from 30% to 70% are available for treating melasma.
Peels are used under close supervision by a qualified dermatologist. The dermatologist is required to examine the skin type and choose a tailor-made peel for each patient.
Microdermabrasion exfoliates the skin using vacuum suction and rough material like aluminum oxide or fine diamond particles. The dermatologist adjusts the pressure of vacuum suction based on tolerance and sensitivity levels of the skin. Skin exfoliation through microdermabrasion can last for a few minutes or even one hour.
There is no specific recovery time necessary after the procedure. A number of procedures are required before observable results. Microdermabrasion procedures are not guaranteed in the treatment of melasma. However, a combination of microdermabrasion techniques with melasma treatment creams and sunscreen produce the best outcome.
This is because besides getting rid of darkened superficial skin, the exfoliation allows better penetration of other topical melasma treatments. For dark skin types, the abrasiveness should be kept at lower levels to avoid worsening the situation.
6 Laser Treatment
Laser treatment is not the primary choice for treatment of melasma. However, with repeated treatments, the treatment becomes effective and yields better results. Laser therapy is particularly beneficial in treating refractory melasma, this is melasma that has proven stubborn to other treatments such as topical creams and chemical peels.
During the treatment, exposure to the sun should be minimized to enhance the results. Since there are different types of lasers, skin type should be put into consideration to lower the risks of hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation.
Accordingly, the treatment should be carried out under strict conditions by qualified and experienced dermatologists.
7 Home Treatments
Home treatments for melasma treatment include establishing an effective cleansing regimen, the use of antioxidants, moisturizers, and UV protection. A good cleansing regimen removes particulate matter and helps protect the skin from pollutants that worsen melasma.
Environmental and airborne pollutants on the skin surface remove the protective layer and make the skin susceptible to melasma. Antioxidants containing vitamin C and vitamin E promote natural healing of the damaged skin and treat melasma in the process. Regular use of skin moisturizers protects and restores the damaged skin while UV protection keeps melasma from becoming worse.
As the old adage goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’ a good proportion of women with melasma have a history of exposure to the sun. Therefore, prevention is essentially avoidance and protection from facial sun. Treatment of melasma takes patience and diligence. It takes time for melasma to clear completely and during the period, melasma can return if the skin is not well protected from the sun. This necessitates long term commitment and maintenance.
Thank you so much for guest contributor Peris Wanjiru. She is a freelance writer who enjoys writing on beauty, skin care, and wellness but also provides ghostwriting services across other niches. She is a former English teacher with a great love for reading. She is one of the writers at Beskinformed.com. You can connect with Peris on Linkedin.