Melasma is a skin disorder whereby dark, irregular patches occur, usually, on the the cheeks, forehead, upper lip and the bridge of the nose. This skin condition happens to mostly women and usually affects the dark-skinned races such as Indians, Asians, Hispanics, Middle Easterners and Northern Africans.
Melasma has no exact known cause and is usually understood to be hereditary. Sometimes changes in hormones called Chloasma may also instigate Melasma and is generally linked with pregnancy. Birth control pills which affect hormonal changes can also contribute to Melasma.
UV sun rays and light bulbs that emit strong light can cause this skin disorder as they stimulate pigment-producing cells in the skin. These cells known as Melanocytes are more active in people with colored skin and generate a bigger quantity of pigment when they are stimulated by light exposure or changes in hormone levels.
While Melasma may disappear after pregnancy, there is no cure for this skin condition and which can sometimes remain for years to a lifetime. However, there are a number of methods to minimize the occurrence of Melasma. SPF 30 or higher sunblock lotions and creams can block UVA and UVB sunrays to prevent the penetration of ultraviolet radiation and visible light, hence, helping reduce Melasma.
The stopping of oral contraceptives like birth control pills may also help. Facial products that irritate the skin should be discontinued as this worsens Melasma. These includes make-up, cleansers and creams.
There is a selection of bleaching creams which reduces the activity of the pigment-producing cells. These creams often contain tretinoin, glycolic acid, steroids, hydroquinone, azelaic acid and kojic acid, and can be obtained over-the-counter. For more severe cases of Melasma, doctors may prescribe higher-concentrated creams.
There are cosmetic surgeries which are available now to treat Melasma such as Chemical Peels, Laser Surgery and Microdermabrasion. These procedures are inconsistent and may cause skin irriataion but when performed by an experienced dermatologist, combined with diligent application or bleaching creams tailored to your type of skin, Melasma can vastly improve.