Melasma: What you need to know

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For starters, let’s talk about what exactly this pesky skin condition known as Melasma is. It causes brown to gray-brown patches on the face. Most people get it on their cheeks, bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, and above their upper lip. It also can appear on other parts of the body that get lots of sun, such as the forearms and neck. Another common name for Melasma is the “mask of pregnancy”, since this pesky skin condition can show up with the hormonal changes during pregnancy.

This is a very common skin condition, with a number of treatment options.  The #1 way to prevent and maintain results after treatment is sun protection!  Not only with sunscreen, but with a hat as well.  Melasma can commonly be triggered by heat, as well as sun, so one of our favorite sun protectors when dealing with Melasma is our SkinMedica Total Defense and Repair sunscreen. This revolutionary superscreen goes beyond UV protection to defend against harmful infrared rays while supporting the skin’s ability to restore itself.

Another common and successfully treatment for Melasma are chemical peels.  Typically a series of 4-5 peels are recommended. We don’t recommend doing treatments in the middle of summer, as additional sun exposure could cause adverse reactions.

Lastly, we commonly use prescription lightening creams with an ingredient called Hydroquinone in it.  These creams do a great job at managing and lightening already present patches of Melasma, but can only be used for a couple of months at time, giving your skin a treatment break in between.

While there are other laser treatments that may address the issue, we typically will not treat during the summer months, especially in a beach town like Wilmington, so we don’t make the issue worse if there is sun exposure!

If you’re dealing with Melasma, we are currently recruiting for a Melasma study for participants between the ages of 18-65.  We will be helping to test a non-hydroquinone topical medication and gauge the effectiveness of the treatment.  If you think you may be interested in finding out more, contact our office at 910-256-4350 or email us at research@wilmingtondermatologycenter.com

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