Do you have dark patches on your cheeks, upper lips, or forehead?
It could be melasma. It means that some areas of your face skin contain more skin pigment melanin than normal ones. The rash can vary from light brown to gray and usually has symmetric localization. In some cases, skin discoloration is present on the upper arms. This condition affects women in 90% of cases, but men also can be affected.
Anyone can get melasma – over 5 million people in the USA, from all walks of life, suffer. However, some people are more susceptible than others. It is more pronounced among Afican Americans, Asians, and Latino people because those groups possess a naturally higher amount of melanin in their skin.Persons with light skin have fair, almost invisible melasma spots.
What are the causes of melasma?
- A genetic predisposition playing one of the main roles in the development of melasma. A family hystory of melasma is observing at 30% of patients.
- Pregnancy is a frequent reason of melasma, witch is often called “chloasma” or “the mask of pregnancy”. The rash usually fades after delivery.
- Using oral contraceptives, injected depot contraceptive, and hormone replacement therapy may have melasma as side effect.
- Overdosed sun exposure, especially after using of various cosmetics like deodorant soaps, scented toiletries. At first, ultraviolet radiation leads to increased levels of free radicals that stimulate excess melanin producing in skin cells. Both UV-A and UV-B radiation can stimulate melanocytes, so sunscreens that block each type are necessary. Secondly, the chemical substance (different fragrances) on the skin can absorb an ultraviolet radiation. This phenomenon is called a phototoxic reaction. It can be the reason of melasma appearance at young men who use toiletries.
- Some medications, like anti malarial, tetracycline, sulfanilamides, silver nitrate.
- Hyperpigmentation can be a symptom of Addison’s disease, thyroid disease, liver affection.
How you can diagnose melasma
It can be visually localized. With assistance of a Wood lamp (wavelength, 340-400 nm), dermal or epidermal localization of melanin can be distinguished.
How you can treat melasma
- Discontinue hormonal contraception if this is possible. Changing of hormonal preparations also can be useful.
- Sun protection is very important. Use broad-spectrum sunscreens with a very high protection. Apply it to all open parts of your body.
- Avoid abrasive cleaners or irritative soaps for washing.
- Special camouflage make-up can help you to look better.
- Use bleaching creams topically.