UVA rays are a stimulant for melanin (brown pigmentation) to develop on the skin, and unfortunately can even penetrate through car window glass. For this reason the most important product to use everyday to help prevent melasma is a broad-spectrum sunscreen with Zinc Oxide and SPF 30+ to block the UVA rays. We recommend Skinfo® Pure Protection, which has the highest amount of Zinc Oxide available in sunscreens. Colorescience Sunforgettable® SPF30 powder sunscreen is also a must have to re-apply throughout the day, extremely light-weight and can be worn over makeup! Also wear a protective hat when outdoors for extended periods to further block these rays.
Melasma is a skin condition that occurs on the face in the form of brown patches. A change in hormonal status (higher levels of estrogen) is thought to trigger and be the cause of the condition (i.e. birth control pills, pregnancy), although many women without these risk factors also develop melasma.
Doctors do not fully understand why melasma occurs. It may be due to the malfunction of the melanocytes (the color-making cells) in the skin, causing them to produce too much color.
As a result, people with darker skin tones are more likely to develop melasma, as they have more melanocytes than people with lighter skin.
Potential triggers for melasma include:
Also, there may be a genetic component to melasma, as people whose close relatives have experienced melasma are more likely to develop it themselves.
There are four types of melasma, Epidermal, Dermal, mixed Epidermal-Dermal and Inapparent. The different types of melasma describe how deep the pigment is in the skin. Typically, the deeper the pigment the harder it is to treat. Epidermal melasma is the most common form and occasionally an exam can be done with a wood’s lamp to determine which type an individual has. However, melasma recalcitrant to therapy is most likely dermal melasma which can be better treated with a laser that can penetrate to the dermis (Fraxel Repair).
Melasma appears as larger brown patches on the forehead, cheeks, nose and upper lip. It can occur in any one of these sites or a combination of these. In rare cases it may appear on the forearms or neck.
Unfortunately melasma is not curable. It is important to always have appropriate sun protection on the skin every day (SPF 30 or greater with high percentage of zinc oxide) because the UVA rays cause the abnormal pigment to increase and darken. Even just one day without sun protection can cause melasma to worsen.
Affirm Lasers continues to be a great procedure for treating melasma. Most patients appreciate improvement after three monthly treatments. Very light settings are effective and therefore only result in about a day of redness following the treatment which is easily covered by makeup.
It is important to note that there is no procedure that will “cure” melasma. Therefore, diligent use of sun block with zinc oxide is always recommended to improve and prolong the results.
Most lightening products contain hydroquinone, a chemical which impairs the cells from making melanin, or botanical ingredients such as kojic acid, arbutin, and licorice. Ask for a consultation to discuss which lighteners are best for your skin.
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Arlington, TX 76011
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