July 10, 2018Skincare

Melasma 101: Understanding this Condition

I see so many patients who are struggling with Melasma in my office – and so many of you have reached out to me on social media with questions and concerns about this condition. Melasma causes a lot of stress, particularly during summer, because you want to be outdoors in the sun and at the beach or pool, yet you feel the heat on your skin and you know it’s making your Melasma worse. It’s incredibly frustrating and there is so much misinformation out there. Thank you for your questions and I hope that this blog post helps to shed some light on the facts about Melasma.

1. What is melasma?
Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation which is characterized by dark brown or gray-brown patches of skin on your cheeks, forehead, nose or chin. My patients often describe it as having the appearance of “paint spatter” on their skin.

2. What causes Melasma?
It’s caused by a combo of HEAT plus SUN plus HORMONES (women are much more likely to have Melasma than men, and birth control pills and pregnancy can be a big trigger).

3. Am I making my Melasma worse in trying to treat it?
Oftentimes, I see patients who have been trying all sorts of home remedies which are actually making their Melasma worse. For example, many people want to try to scrub or exfoliate their Melasma away by reaching for powerful ingredients and aggressive tools and overusing them. However, anything that creates redness and irritation can actually set you back. If you use lasers or lights to see results fast- oftentimes, this will exacerbate your Melasma. Even if a procedure or device seems to make the skin look lighter initially—it can sometimes prime or sensitize the melanocytes (your pigment producing cells) and then, the next time you’re in the sun even just for a short time, they pump out pigment even faster than before – it’s as if they’ve been sensitized/primed to be supersensitive to even tiny exposures to the sun.

These are the basics about Melasma. Stay tuned because I will be sharing Melasma 102 very soon, which is all about my suggested game plan to address this condition.