What is Melasma?


Melasma is a common skin condition, particularly in skin of color and after childbirth, that causes brown spots, usually on the face. Hormonal changes such as pregnancy and hormonal birth control are often the trigger.

Heat, sun and hormonal changes can worsen the melasma, causing more intense pigment disruption.

Once melasma develops, it usually becomes a chronic condition. Unfortunately there is no cure but with diligent maintenance, it can get better and stay under control.

The most important way to control melasma is by applying and reapplying sunscreen daily, regardless of weather. Melasma is exacerbated by ALL the light wavelengths, including visible light, so 365 days a year is important. Many creams have sunscreen but that is not enough. A mineral based, tinted sunscreen, made with zinc or titanium oxide, is recommended as a physical barrier. In the US, chemical sunscreens have benzene derivatives. They may promote hormonal disruption and mineral sunscreens are preferable. Powder based sunscreens in brushes are a convenient way to reapply sunscreen over makeup.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant and enhances the benefits of sunscreen. Combining vit C serums and sunscreen in the morning skin care routine is effective for suppressing melanin, the pigment that produces brown spots.

Retinol is another very key ingredient to reduce pigment production. It is a vitamin A derivative and promotes collagen production, reduces wrinkles, helps control acne and suppresses melanin. Retinols are available over the counter the counter, as well as by prescription, in different strengths.

Starting retinol is often irritating to the skin and results are not seen for several months. It should not be used by pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant, as it causes birth defects. Red, peeling skin, purging with worsening acne is common.

It is important to speak with a knowledgeable skin care professional to create a plan that is tolerable, so good results can be achieved and retinol can be used long term.

Kojic acid and azelaic acid are also helpful. Multiple other ingredients such as tranexamic acid, cysteamine, hydroquinone, niacinamide are often also used as part of a daily skincare regimen.

Chemical peels, microneedling and lasers may be helpful. Lasers may worsen the melasma due to the heat, so choosing the correct settings and laser is very key.

Working with an experienced and knowledgeable skin care professional is the best way to keep melasma under control.

Please call 860-999-4865 for your consultation at InnerGlowAestheticsMD.