Melasma: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

By | August 22, 2019
Melasma is a skin condition that causes discoloration of the skin. The causes of melasma range from hormonal to ultraviolet ray exposure. This condition is not dangerous but can interfere with the appearance. Learn more about melasma starting from the symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is Melasma?

Melasma is one of the common skin problems. Melasma causes dark spots or discoloration of the skin to turn brown or grayish-blue. This condition most commonly appears on the face, but can also appear on parts of the skin that are often exposed to sunlight.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, melasma is more common in women, accounting for 90% of all melasma sufferers.

Melasma Symptoms

The symptom of melasma is the appearance of patches whose color is darker than the color of your skin. These patches can be brown or grayish-blue. Melasma area is generally symmetrical and most commonly appears on the face, namely on the cheeks, forehead, nose bridge, and chin.
In addition to the face, the appearance of melasma can also occur in other parts of the skin that are exposed to the sun, such as the forearms, neck, and shoulders. Melasma is not dangerous for your physical condition, but for some people, the condition can interfere with the appearance.

Causes of Melasma

Reporting from Medical News Today, the possible cause of melasma is due to damage to melanocytes, which are color-making cells in the skin. Melanocyte cells that are too active will cause a darker skin color.
Here are some potential factors that can be a cause of melasma:
  • Hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, hormone treatment, or taking birth control pills.
  • Exposure to sunlight, ultraviolet light can affect melanocyte cells
  • Certain skincare products that cause skin irritation
  • Stress
  • Thyroid disease
In addition to the above causes, there are also several factors that cause a high risk of developing melasma such as the following:
  • Has a darker skin tone
  • Have a family history of melasma
  • Female sex

Diagnosis of Melasma

Melasma can usually be detected only by physical examination. Another examination that might be done is wood’s lamp examination, which is examination using a special light that looks closely at the skin.
The purpose of wood’s lamp examination is to find out how deep melasma is or how much layer of skin is affected by melasma. This examination can also detect if there is an infection caused by fungus.
Another examination that may be done is a biopsy, which is taking a small portion of tissue to be examined in a laboratory. But it rarely happens and only done if a cancerous tissue is suspected.

Difference between Melasma and Spots (Solar Lentigo)

Some people find it difficult to distinguish melasma or spots on the face or can be called lentigo. Here are some differences between melasma and lentigo in terms of characteristics and causes:
  • The shape is symmetrical.
  • The area of ​​skin affected by melasma is wider.
  • Has a brown or grayish-blue color.
  • Can be caused by hormonal or sun exposure.
Spots (lentigo):
  • Asymmetrical shape.
  • Small in size and spread over the skin (not centered on one area only)
  • Has a brown color
  • Not caused by hormonal factors.
Knowing the difference between these two conditions is important to do so you can find out the right treatment to do.

Melasma Treatment

Treatment or treatment of melasma is not always necessary. Melasma is often harmless and usually due to beauty reasons only. If melasma arises due to pregnancy, then melasma can generally be reduced after giving birth.
If melasma is caused by hormone therapy or by taking birth control pills, then melasma can be reduced when therapy and drug use are stopped. If the cause of melasma is another factor, here’s how to get rid of melasma that might be done:

1. Protect skin from the sun

How to eliminate melasma that can be done also as a preventive measure is to avoid the skin from the sun, especially at 10 am to 4 pm. Some steps you can take to protect the skin are like:
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every time you leave the house.
  • Use a wide-brimmed hat to protect the face.
  • Use closed clothes if you have to be in the sun.

2. Topical medicines

The second way to get rid of melasma is to use topical medicines. Here are some types of ointments or creams commonly used to treat melasma:
  • Hydroquinone, available in cream form. Its function is to brighten the skin so that it can disguise melasma.
  • Tretinoin, also known as retinoic acid. It has the ability to brighten the skin and is sometimes also used for acne skincare.
In addition to the three types of topical drugs above, the doctor can also provide a combination cream consisting of a mixture of the three drugs above. The use of topical medicines must be carried out under the supervision of a doctor.

3. Actions

The last way to get rid of melasma is a specific facial treatment procedure or procedure. There are several types of treatment that are commonly done to treat melasma, such as the following:
  • Microdermabrasion, a method of using microcrystal beads to lift the outer layer of the skin.
  • Chemical peeling, a procedure that uses chemicals, which is a strong acid to remove the outermost layer of skin which will be replaced by a new layer of skin that will form.
  • Laser treatment, the procedure of using laser exposure to destroy the outer layer of facial skin.
  • Light therapy, the use of certain light or light to overcome various kinds of problems on the face.
Facial treatment procedures to deal with melasma must be done by professionals. Also, note that each procedure may also cause side effects, so you should discuss with your doctor first before choosing the action that will be chosen to treat melasma.