Melasma is a skin condition brought on by overexposure of the sun. The condition causes brown or grey “sun spots” that appear on your face, neck and forearms. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 90 percent of people who develop Melasma are women between the ages of 20 and 40 years. Darker-skinned individuals are more at risk than those with fair skin.
Estrogen and progesterone sensitivity are also associated with the condition which means that birth control pills, pregnancy and hormone therapy can all be triggers. Stress and thyroid disease are also thought to be causes of melasma. Sun exposure is considered a significant flare factor.
Sometimes melasma can look like other skin conditions so it is important to consult with a board certified dermatologist. Dr. Monique S. Cohn at Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center can rule out other conditions so you can receive the correct treatment.
Melasma can fade on its own or last for years, even a lifetime. The treatments available may include:
- Hydroquinone: This medication is a common first treatment for melasma. It is applied to the skin and works to even out your skin tone. Hydroquinone is no longer available without a prescription.
- Tretinoin and corticosteroids: To enhance skin lightening, Dr. Cohn often prescribes a second medicine, for example tretinoin or a corticosteroid. Some of the products in this category contain a combination of three medicines (hydroquinone, tretinoin, and a corticosteroid) in one cream.
- Other topical medicines: For some people, Dr. Cohn may prescribe azelaic acid or kojic acid to help reduce their melasma.
- Procedures: If medicine applied to your skin does not help, Dr. Cohn may recommend procedures such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, dermabrasion, laser treatment, or light therapy.
The doctor’s involvement is important because different skin types require different treatments. Dr. Cohn will explain during the evaluation and consultation that Melasma can be persistent and it may take a few months to treat including maintenance therapy to see any improvements.
You can help prevent your melasma from returning by wearing sunscreen every day and reapplying the sunscreen regularly. Sunscreen gives a lot of protection but it is also recommended to wear protective clothing and a hat when outside.
Dr. Monique S. Cohn at Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center can create a treatment plan based on your skin type. If you are due for your yearly full body skin exam or you notice something on your body that just doesn’t look right, contact our office by calling 330-425-7600 to set up an appointment in Twinsburg.