Melasma – dermatologists in Westlake Ohio are unmasking the truths behind this confounding medical issue
By late fall, your summer tan has most likely started to fade, but a quick look at yourself in the mirror may reveal that you have some dark patches remaining on your skin that aren’t seeming to go away. These patches of brown to grayish brown, which can appear on different areas of your face could be a sign that you suffer from a condition known as melasma. This unusual skin pigmentation disorder may not be a health threat, but it can cause self-esteem issues. The medical team at Associates in Dermatology have been providing successful melasma treatment to patients in the Westlake, Ohio area using cutting-edge medical and laser techniques designed to achieve even skin tone in a safe and effective manner.
Melasma – Persistent and Vexing
It’s estimated that five million Americans, mostly women, suffer from melasma. Melasma is not painful and it doesn’t pose any significant health risks, but what these dark patches on the face do impact is self-esteem and confidence. Historically, this condition has been difficult to treat and there is a quite a lot of misinformation floating around regarding the causes of melasma.
It’s been found that those with darker skin shades are at a higher risk for developing this condition. The reason for this, per the American Academy of Dermatology, is that the skin of a person who is a darker shade already contains a higher level of active pigment-producing cells. Melasma surfaces when these pigment-producing cells go into overdrive, producing levels of pigment which are too much in certain areas of the skin. This process is like that which causes age spots or freckles, just on a bigger scale as the patches are larger. While melasma is much more common in women, it does also affect the male population. Melasma has a genetic component to it and can often run in families. There are two causes of melasma that stand out above the others.
- Hormones: One reason women who are pregnant are more likely to suffer from melasma is that fluctuations in a woman’s hormones can trigger it. Melasma can also be a result of either starting or stopping hormonal contraception. This includes birth control or when you receive hormone replacement therapy.
- Sun Exposure: One of the major culprits that triggers melasma is sunlight. Women who are undergoing major hormonal changes may not suffer from melasma until, for example, they take a trip to the beach during the summertime and soak in some sun. The sun is a large exacerbating factor and can be the trigger that causes the unsightly blotches to surface. Because melasma isn’t necessarily triggered only by the sun’s rays, but also by heat and visible light, that means that sunscreens, which will protect you from skin cancer, are not enough to prevent an occurrence of melasma. Due to this, treating melasma during the summer months is a huge challenge.
The first step you should take if you believe you are suffering from melasma is to see your dermatologist so that they can confirm whether your discolored skin patches are, in fact, melasma. Once melasma has been confirmed, the next step is to determine the causes behind it. If the underlying cause(s) are not addressed, treating the melasma could very well be ineffective. There are several oral treatments out there that can treat melasma, but if the triggers are not addressed, taking these treatments can be pointless. If you are exposed to the exacerbating factors that are causing your melasma to flare up while taking medication, it can be a lot like a hamster in a spinning wheel – a whole lot of action without getting anywhere.
Your dermatologist will go through your medical history and lifestyle choices to understand what the underlying cause of your melasma could be. Once a cause can be determined, adjustments can then be made. If, for instance, it’s found that a hormonal contraceptive is behind the flare ups, a nonhormonal option could be tried in conjunction with a medication to halt the melasma. Together, the melasma would hopefully be on its way to being eradicated. Some other dermatology procedures which could be explored to help with your melasma include:
If you believe that you are suffering from melasma and are seeking medical help, the team at Associates in Dermatology would love to see you and begin guiding you down the path to recovery. For an appointment, please call (440) 482-8323 today.Back to Melasma Page