Get up to Speed on Melasma

MELASMA.pngErin Lukas from Instyle teams up with Dr. Jegasothy to shed light on a common skin condition in women: melasma. It is a condition that can be mistreated, so it is important to know what it is and how to treat it. 

Who does it affect? Women, especially in ethnic skin types, such as Latin and Asian women.

What does it look like? It shows up as flat, brown, net-like patches on the forehead, cheeks, and jawline.

When does it occur?  Melasma is a condition that fluctuates with estrogen and comes to surface during times of change, such as starting a hormonal birth control method, hormone therapy, or pregnancy. “Why some people develop this enhanced sensitivity to estrogen is not known. What we do know, however, is that this condition most commonly occurs after a hormonal change in the individual’s system” explains Dr. Jegasothy. 

How can it be treated? Since it is caused by estrogen changes, discontinuing any hormonal treatments can be beneficial when dealing with melasma. Although there is no cure, it can go away on its own with time. If the melasma doesn’t go away on its own, Dr. Jegasothy can help. 

What can I do about it?  In the beginning stages of melasma, over-the-counter brightening products (kojic cream and arbutin) will work for awhile, but eventually you will need help from a dermatologist. 

At Dr. Jegasothy’s office, she will begin with brightening cream and light fruit acid peels. Light lasers such as Fraxel and Nd:YAG are used when topical treatments are not successful. “I tend to proceed cautiously with treatments, since many of my patients have darker skin and can have pigmentary problems from the treatments themselves,” she explains. “As such, we use clinically studied brightening creams that are safe to use in darker skin patients, as well as light fruit-acid peels that have also been proven to be safe to use in darker skin patients. Lasers can only be used on melasma patients with lighter skin tones because they are less likely to develop hyperpigmention.”

Although this skin condition cannot be prevented from happening, it can be prevented from getting worse by avoiding the sun. “If patients are deciding to undergo melasma treatment, it is much more effective if they do not get direct sun exposure, she says. “If they are unable to comply with this, I tell them that it is still OK. We can treat their melasma, but their sun exposure may reduce the rapidity of the effectiveness of our treatment.”

To read the rest of the article with other tips, click here:

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