Melasma is just one type of hyperpigmentation. Other types include post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and sunspots. PIH is caused by inflammation of the skin, such as from acne, eczema, or a cut or scrape. Sunspots, also known as age spots or liver spots, are caused by sun exposure over time. While all types of hyperpigmentation can be distressing, melasma is particularly challenging to treat because it is often resistant to traditional treatments. However, with the right diagnosis and treatment plan, melasma can be effectively managed. Find out what the most effective treatment and management options are by reading this article.
The cause of melasma is not yet fully understood, but it is believed to be related to hormonal changes, sun exposure, and genetics. Women are more likely to develop melasma than men, and it is often associated with pregnancy or the use of birth control pills. In addition to hormonal factors, sun exposure can exacerbate melasma, as can certain medications and cosmetics. While melasma is not harmful or life-threatening, it can be a source of emotional distress for those who experience it.
The symptoms of melasma include dark, irregularly shaped patches on the face. These patches are usually brown or gray-brown in color and can vary in size and shape. Melasma is typically symmetrical, meaning that it appears on both sides of the face.
Diagnosing melasma is usually straightforward and can be done by a dermatologist or other healthcare professional. The doctor will typically examine the affected areas of the skin and may use a special light to help identify the areas of hyperpigmentation. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be necessary to rule out other conditions.
Once a diagnosis of melasma has been made, the doctor will work with the patient to develop a treatment plan. This may include topical creams, chemical peels, or laser therapy, depending on the severity and location of the melasma.
Treating melasma in Singapore
Topical creams are often the first line of treatment for melasma. These creams typically contain hydroquinone, which is a substance that effectively lightens the skin and helps in reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Other topical treatments may include tretinoin, azelaic acid, or kojic acid.
In some cases, chemical peels may be recommended to treat melasma. A chemical peel involves applying a solution to the skin that causes it to exfoliate and peel off, revealing new, lighter skin underneath. Chemical peels can be done at different depths, depending on the severity of the melasma.
Laser therapy is another option for treating melasma. This involves using a laser to target the hyperpigmented areas of the skin, which causes the melanin to break up and be absorbed by the body. Laser therapy can be effective for treating melasma, but it can also be expensive, time-consuming, and may require multiple treatments.
Importance of using sunscreen
One of the best ways to prevent hyperpigmentation, including melasma, is to protect the skin from the sun. This means wearing sunscreen every day, whether you are staying indoors or outdoors. It is crucial to use sunscreen daily as UV radiation can penetrate through windows and clouds. Sun exposure not only causes melasma but also increases the risk of skin cancer, premature aging, and other skin disorders. Using sunscreen regularly can prevent these negative effects and maintain healthy skin.
When choosing a sunscreen for hyperpigmentation, it is important to look for one that is broad-spectrum, meaning that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. It should also have an SPF of at least 30. A good sunscreen should contain physical blockers such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These ingredients create a physical barrier on the skin that reflects and scatters UV radiation, instead of absorbing it.
The long-term benefits of using sunscreen are manifold. Firstly, it reduces the risk of skin cancer, which is the most common type of cancer worldwide. Secondly, it prevents premature aging, such as wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots, which are caused by the breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers in the skin due to UV radiation. Thirdly, it helps to maintain an even skin tone and prevent hyperpigmentation, such as melasma, freckles, and dark spots, which are caused by the overproduction of melanin in response to UV radiation.
In addition to wearing sunscreen, it is important to take other measures to protect the skin from the sun. This may include wearing a hat, seeking shade during peak sun hours, and avoiding tanning beds.
Home remedies against melasma
In addition to traditional treatments for melasma, there are also several natural remedies that may help to lighten dark spots on the skin. These remedies include applying lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or aloe vera gel to the affected areas of the skin. Some people also find that using a honey and yogurt mask can help to lighten dark spots.
While home remedies may be effective for some people, you should note that they have not been scientifically proven to be 100% effective for treating melasma. In addition, some home remedies may irritate the skin or cause other side effects.
Melasma prevention is not limited to topical creams, medical treatments, and home remedies. Eating a healthy diet that is rich in antioxidants, getting regular exercise, and enough rest and sleep can also do wonders for your skin.
Antioxidants are important for skin health because they help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. Foods that are rich in antioxidants include berries, leafy greens, and nuts. Exercise is also important for skin health because it increases blood flow and helps to deliver nutrients to the skin. And lastly, getting enough sleep every night improves a person’s overall health and helps the body (and skin) recharge.
Coping with the emotional impact of melasma
In addition to the physical symptoms of melasma, many people with this condition also experience feelings of shame, embarrassment, or low self-esteem. To avoid going on a downward spiral, it is crucial to seek support from friends, family, or mental health professionals if you are struggling with the emotional impact of this condition. You may also find it helpful to connect with others who have experienced similar challenges.
Melasma can be a challenging condition to manage, but with the right diagnosis and treatment plan, it is possible to overcome the hurdles and improve the appearance of the skin. By protecting the skin from the sun, using topical creams or other medical treatments, and making lifestyle, people with melasma can take control of their condition and improve their quality of life.
One Face Clinic — Dr David Ng Cheow Hua
1 Tras Link #02-01 Orchid Hotel, Singapore 078867
Phone: +65 6222 2262
WhatsApp/WeChat: +65 9822 2989