Do You Have Dark Skin Blotches? Check For Melasma

Posted on: 15 July 2022

If you've developed dark brown, light brown, or gray patches on your skin, you might have a hyper-pigmentation disorder called melasma. Your dermatologist can help you get a firm diagnosis. Melasma isn't a dangerous condition, but it can be a cosmetic concern for many patients since it causes an uneven skin tone.

Take a look at why this condition happens and how to treat it.

What Causes it, and Who is at Risk? 

The two main causes of melasma are exposure to ultraviolet light and hormone fluctuations. When sunlight hits the skin, it triggers the body's response to produce melanin. While some people may experience even tans, some people develop melasma in response. Some people are more prone to melasma because of medications they may be taking, like antibiotics, which can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Pregnant women and women taking oral contraceptives are at a greater risk of developing melasma. People with fairer skin are also at greater risk of developing this skin condition.

How Can You Treat it? 

There are several treatments that can address melasma. If your melasma is light, your dermatologist may have you start with conservative treatments such as using sunscreen that contains zinc oxide, iron oxide, and titanium dioxide. For some people, daily sunscreen use may be enough to protect the skin as the melasma fades on its own.

Hydroquinone is one of the most common topical medications for melasma that helps to lighten skin. Your dermatologist can write a prescription or recommend an over-the-counter option. A review of melasma treatments found that hydroquinone was the most effective treatment for melasma; chemical peels and laser therapies were effective but tended to have more side effects than topicals.

If hydroquinone isn't effective, then your dermatologist may recommend a combination therapy of retinoids or mild corticosteroids. These medications can even out skin tones and act as anti-inflammatories.

Although topicals are often recommended as the first line of treatment, some dermatologists may recommend chemical peels with glycolic acid. This type of chemical peel can remove dead skin cells and promote cell turnover so that the melasma fades. If melasma is caused by hormone fluctuations, like pregnancy, and a person wants to see quicker results, then laser therapy may be a good option.

Lastly, microneedling can be an option to treat melasma if topicals aren't working. During microneedling, your dermatologist will create microscopic tears in the skin. Similar to a chemical peel, the goal of microneedling is to encourage cell turnover as the skin heals.

Reach out to a dermatologist today for more information on melasma and therapies to treat it.