Melasma is a skin condition, which causes pigmented patches and discoloration on your skin, and is often mistaken for sun spots, freckles or liver spots. At first glance, they all bare similar resemblances to each other; however, there are slight differences in appearance if examined closely. It is important to note that all of the above mentioned skin conditions are triggered by exposure to the sun`s UV rays, so protecting your skin from the sun via sunscreen and other apparel is important, especially as you grow older. Melasma can be differentiated from other skin conditions by how they first form and appear on the skin.
There is no scientific explanation for what causes melasma except that it is often activated by being pregnant, use of birth control, hormone replacement therapy or other medications that make your skin more prone to pigmentation when exposed to UV light.
Melasma appears in the patches and form in varying sizes and shapes that can may even take the shape of a cloak or mask on your face.
Individuals with freckles have them due to their genetic make up. They are small, light brown spots which can appear on people as young as one or two years old. They may get darker or slightly alter its shape with exposure to the sun or as a result of a sun burn.
Sun spots appear solely based on prolong exposure to UV rays. They may get darker or multiply from being in the sun and tend to be more prominent on individuals’ skin as they age.
Ethnicity and genetics can also play a role in increasing your chances of melasma. Women of Asian or African descent are more receptive to melasma because they produce more melanin, which is responsible for determining pigmentation in your skin and hair.
In the obstetrician community, it is often called the mask of pregnancy, otherwise known as chloasma and often occurs in a woman’s second or third trimester, where there is an increase in hormones such as melanocyte-stimulating hormones (MSH).
Aside from the unsightly appearance it may cause, it is important to note that there are no detrimental health effects related to melasma.
Preventing Melasma and Treatment
1. Protect Your Skin from the Sun: This is the ideal way to avoid any unwanted skin pigmentation from the above mentioned skin conditions. Always apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher 20 minutes before going outside. You can also wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses for additional protection.
2. Concealer: A quick and easy fix to covering up your melasma would be to use makeup and concealer. Tip: look for concealers or moisturizers that include SPF, hydroquinone, which help block the creation of melanin, or kojic acid or melaplex, which are ingredients for skin brightening.
3. Destress: Undergoing high stress experiences regularly can create hormonal imbalances in your body, and since melasma can be triggered by the presence of hormonal changes, you may wish to consider setting aside some time for exercises to help you destress. Researching some deep breathing techniques, meditation or yoga practices are easy and inexpensive ways to help to you alleviate tension in your body both mentally and physically.
4. Diet and Health: Consuming foods or applying natural products rich in Vitamin C, E, A are proven to help repair melasma and help rejuvenate healthy skin. Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for the growth and repair of body issues including the skin. Vitamin E helps to neutralize free radicals such as melanin in your body. Vitamin A is key in the restoration of healthy skin once melasma has formed.
Many people experience melasma without even know realizing it, and it is very common among women 20-50 years old, so there is no need to feel embarrassed. The most important part is diagnosing it correctly and then finding healthy and natural solutions to remedy it.
For more information on how to effectively treat or diagnose melasma, leave me a comment below and we`ll chat soon!