What is Melasma?
Melasma is the turning of normal skin to brown patchy skin. It is usually the discoloration of skin which is mostly seen in the case of women in the reproductive age. Usually the patches appear on the upper cheeks, upper lips and sometimes near the chin. The disease is very rare in men as it’s mainly caused because of hormonal changes seen in women such as during pregnancy or hormonal changes due to birth control pills. Other than the hormonal change, sun exposure is also a significant cause of this condition. A statistical report shows more Asians and Latin experiencing discoloration than others. It is also mostly seen in pregnant women due to the reason mention above.
Types of Melasma
Generally melasma is the discoloration of the skin, but it has been divided into 4 categories, based on the pigmentation pattern. The first type is the epidermal melasma which is distinguished by the excessive levels of melanin in the superficial layers of skin. This results in a darker complexion in the areas with excessive melanin. Melanin is a compound produced by the skin to save the cells from UV rays. An excess of melanin secretion may be due to over-exposure to sunlight. Next is the dermal melasma which is caused by the presence of melanophages in the dermal layer of skin. Melanophages are the cells that otherwise ingest the melanin compound. Excessive melanophages can be dangerous as the skin will be deprived of required levels of melanin. Third type is the mixed melasma which, as the name shows, is a mixture of the two types mentioned earlier. The fourth type is not named, but it is usually found in dark-skinned individuals. This is caused by the excessive production of melanocytes in the skin.
Causes of Melasma
The exact cause of melasma is not known however, due to statiscal studies and other research, there have been 4 cases that have shown more susceptibility to melasma than others. despite the fact that melasma is known to be triggered by different other factors, the following factors are believed to be a major trigger for the melasma pigmentation.
Direct sunlight, or rather UV rays are known to be a significant factor behind melasma pigmentation in an individual. This is also believed because most people develop melasma during hot summers when the intensity of sunlight is at its peak. It is linked with the excessive production of melanin in the skin to protect the cells from UV rays coming from the sunlight. In winters, many patients recover to some extent without any medication or treatment. This is most likely because of the reduction in the intensity of sunlight.
Melasma in the case of pregnant women, is also known as chloasma, the mask of pregnancy. This is because melasma in pregnant women is certainly a result of imbalance in the hormones due to pregnancy. Pregnant women experience raised levels of estrogen, progesterone and melanocyte-stimulating hormone. Although melanocytes are the cells that deposit pigmentation in the skin and are the cause of melasma in one of the 4 types mentioned above, they are not the main reason behind melasma in the case of pregnant women. Instead, increased levels of progesterone is believed to be the prime reason behind melasma pigmentation.
People having a family history of melasma, are more prone to this condition than the rest. Women from such families are more likely to develop melasma pigmentation upon taking birth control pills or during their pregnancy because of the increased levels of progesterone.
Treatment of Melasma
Melasma pigmentation treatment Melbourne does not require an invasive surgery or not even a laser treatment. In most cases, it gets healed without any treatment. However, if it does not, special creams are prescribed by the doctors. These creams have hydroquinone which is a phenolic hypopigmenting agent, azelaic acid, non-phenolic bleaching agents, retinoic acid and kojic acid. The cream may not have all of these ingredients, but it is mostly a combination of these. All four types of melasma are curable through these creams, but the epidermal melasma has shown the quickest results of all because in this case, the pigment exists quite close to the outer service.
Any side effects
There are no serious side effects of the creams that cure melasma pigmentation. However, people with sensitive skins may experience some irritation but that is only temporary. People using HQ treatment for prolonged period of time may develop side effect of exogenous ochronosis, in which, the skin darkens with the usage of bleaching agent.