Melasma is a skin condition that causes dark spots. Its treatment requires a multifaceted approach, although it is usually personalized according to the needs of each individual.
What is melasma?
Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation, a common skin condition characterized by the appearance of symmetrical brown or grayish spots on the skin.
These spots usually appear on sun-exposed areas such as the face, neck, arms and décolleté. It is more common in women and in people with dark skin.
What are the causes of its appearance?
Melasma spots are caused by an increase in the production of melanin, which is a person’s skin pigment. The causes of this increase are not entirely clear, but there are several factors that contribute to its development, such as hormonal factors, sun exposure and genetic factors.
- Sun exposure. Ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun is a trigger for melasma, as prolonged exposure can stimulate melanin production in the skin.
- Hormonal factors. Pregnancy and the use of oral contraceptives are associated with an increased predisposition to melasma. About 15% of pregnant women suffer from melasma. And between 10% and 25% of women taking oral contraceptives suffer from melasma.
- Genetic factors. If you have direct relatives who have suffered from melasma, there is an increased risk of developing the condition.
Types of melasma
Melasma manifests itself in three main patterns, depending on the depth of the patch:
- Epidermal melasma: in epidermal melasma, hyperpigmentation is found in the epidermis, the most superficial layer of the skin. It is the most common type of melasma.
- Dermal melasma: in this case, the hyperpigmentation is located in the dermis, the deepest layer of the skin. It is the most resistant type to treatment.
- Mixed melasma: here the stain combines dermal and epidermal depth.
Can melasma disappear on its own?
Melasma does not go away on its own. It is a persistent condition unless the causes are completely eliminated. We will use two cases as examples:
- If melasma spots are caused by excessive sun exposure, they may fade or lighten if sun exposure is avoided and adequate sun protection is used.
- In the case of melasma related to pregnancy or oral contraceptive use, the spots may lighten or disappear after the pregnancy ends or contraceptive use is discontinued.
In other words, if the cause of the melasma is not eliminated, the spot will fade but will not disappear.
On the other hand, there are people who suffer from a chronic type of melasma that does not disappear on its own and requires the use of treatment.
How to remove melasma spots on the face?
Melasma can be a persistent condition and, in some cases, may require long-term treatment in a combination of strategies, including sunscreens, depigmenting creams, chemical peels or laser treatments.
Depending on the severity of the melasma and subsequent response to treatment, the treatment approach may vary.
- The use of superficial or medium chemical peels can help remove pigmented skin cells and improve the appearance of melasma by giving rise to new skin.
- Laser therapies seek to lighten melasma by direct impacts of light on the desired area. By varying the intensity of the laser, both superficial and deeper treatments can be performed.
- Depigmenting creams containing ingredients such as hydroquinone, kojic acid, azelaic acid, glycolic acid and vitamin C can help lighten melasma spots.
- Consistent use of broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) is essential to prevent exacerbation of melasma due to sun exposure.
Before concluding, it should be added that melasma is not a harmful condition. And not to be confused with melanoma, which is a type of skin cancer. In any case, it is advisable to consult a professional.