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Melasma is a common skin pigmentation disorder affecting over five million people. It presentsclinically with brown, tan and blue-gray patches on the skin, primarily on the face. The most common areas of the face for melasma to appear are mid-forehead, cheeks, bridge of the nose, and the upper lip. It can also appear on the neck, chest and arms.
Much like general hyperpigmentation, melasma appears in the form of discoloration on the skin and is exacerbated by exposure to the sun.
What causes melasma? The cause of melasma is not entirely known. Researchers have found a correlation between darker skin types and melasma. This is due to an increase in melanocytes, which are the cells responsible for producing pigment in the skin. Here are the top three things that contribute to melasma development:
  • Hormonal Fluctuations
  • Sun Exposure
  • Genetics

With hormonal fluctuations, any shift in hormones can trigger melasma. Pregnant women experience significant hormonal fluctuations. Melasma is so common during the gestational period that it’s become known as the “Mask of Pregnancy” or may also be called Chloasma. Birth control and hormonal replacement medication can also contribute to hyperpigmentation.

Sun exposure can intensify melasma, despite using sunscreen frequently. This is because ultraviolet rays can stimulate the melanocytes in your skin, as well as the heat from the sun and visible light can trigger the pigmentation disorder to break loose. That’s why melasma tends to be worse in the summer, and faded hyperpigmentation may return when you spend too much time in the sun. Not only the sun, however any type of heat can trigger melasma including but not limited to hot yoga, saunas, steam rooms and even cooking over heat. It may have a genetic component, as it often runs in families and is more common in women than men.

The good news?! There are treatment options to help your melasma symptoms subside. The best treatment options for melasma should be a combination of daily products used at home as well as professional services that we are able to offer here, at Rejuvenate Integrative Wellness. Being diligent about home-care products can help yield quicker results by using a mix of prescription-strength *hydroquinone*, kojic acid, retinol, and vitamin C products, as well as being meticulous about applying UVA- and UVB-protecting sunscreen. *Hydroquinone should only be used for a maximum treatment period of 3 months in order to avoid inflammation, rebound hyperpigmentation and reduced tolerance.*
Professional treatments that can best target melasma are chemical peels, specifically those targeting hyperpigmentation correction as well as low-level lasers, which are able to break up the pigment. Both of these options are best done in a series of treatments to be able to fully treat the melasma. Slow and steady is the best way to treat melasma as the pigment cells are extremely sensitive during this time. We offer the Aerolase Neo elite Laser and perform the NeoSkin airbrush treatment as it is effective and gentle for the treatment of melasma. Its high power laser energy heats the melasma quickly for higher clearance as it helps to clear deeper pigment and breakup the more superficial pigment lying on the skin’s surface, which leaves the skin looking radiant. The Aerolase is effective for all skin types.
While melasma is not curable, luckily there are treatment options available to make this skin condition more tolerable and help bring the skin back to its normal state.

Melissa McCartney

Author