Blotchy blob, be gone!
What it is: Melasma is a patchy hyperpigmentation that occurs most often on the forehead, upper lip, cheeks and chin, which worsens with sun exposure. It occurs commonly in women and is caused by hormonal changes, including pregnancy and the birth control pill. It can also occur in men.
The best way to treat melasma is to see a dermatologist, who can assess and confirm the diagnosis and form a management plan, which may include the following:
- Chemical peels. The most commonly used acid compounds to remove melasma include trichloroacetic acid, azelaic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid and various fruit extracts.
- Skin lightening agents. However each patient has a unique skin type and reactions to skin lightening agents vary.
According to our medical advisor Dr. Lisa Kellett, “The important thing is prevention. This would include using an SPF 30 daily, a hat, sun protective clothing, and sun avoidance behavior. Melasma can be made worse by exposure to sunlight and also heat (IPL treatments and hot yoga, for example). Vitamin A and hydroquinone are no longer used as much as because they can be irritating on its own, and there are also safety concerns surrounding hydroquinone. The most cutting edge treatments now include the use of bleaching agents and peels.” These treatments do not necessarily cure the cause of melasma and the effectiveness of each will vary from person to person.
So how long would it take to see results?
Diana Phillips, the cosmetic nurse at Dr. Kellett’s clinic (DLK on Avenue), says she has seen great results from patients on a 12-week treatment program, which includes either a series of peels and/or the use of a clinical depigmentation mask. Explains Phillips, “What we want to do with melasma is treat it in two ways. First by inhibiting the melanocytes from creating the pigment and then lift it from the skin. We find topical products and a maintenance cream that includes arbutin (a safe alternative to hydroquinone) to be very effective in treatment melasma.” Phillips stresses that melasma should be dealt with at a dermatologist’s office rather than at a spa where there is no physician on staff.
Celebs who have it: Brooke Burke. In this video, she talks about her unique struggle with the skin condition, stating that she has now resigned to using make up to cover it up.