Melasma is a skin condition characterized by discoloration of certain parts of the body. The problem predominantly affects the face and generally occurs in pregnant women.
Melasma is also known under the name 'the mask of pregnancy'. The skin changes develop on the upper lip, cheeks and forehead. This hyperpigmentation may range from a deep shade of brown to tan. The skin patches are almost identical and symmetrically affect the face. Apart from facial skin changes, melasma may develop on other parts of the body, particularly those exposed to the sun.
Why does Melasma Develops?
Melasma is not a serious medical condition. It is rather harmless and represents only an aesthetic problem. A well experienced physician can easily recognize melasma, and be even more sure that a woman is suffering from it if the pregnancy is confirmed.
The actual cause of melasma remains mystery. Some scientists believe that skin hyperpigmentation develops due to an increase in melanin producing cells. But why this increase occurs is still unknown. Some of the potential trigger factors of the condition are hormonal changes, excessive exposure to the sun and in women who are not pregnant melasma may result from intake of oral contraceptives or hormonal replacement therapy.Treatment for Melasma
It may be possible for skin pigmentation to disappear months after delivery. Unfortunately, this only occurs in a certain number of pregnant women. Others, however, have to face permanent hyperpigmentation of the affected skin.
Women who are taking oral contraceptives or those on hormone replacement therapy should cease with the drugs they are taking. Discontinuation of such medicines will allow the skin to regain its normal color. Proper protection against the sun is essential in both, pregnant women as well as those taking certain drugs that may interact with sunlight.
Chemical Peels and Tretinoin Usage
If these skin changes linger, there are certain procedures that efficiently remove hyperpigmentation from the affected skin.
Chemical peels are widely used for treating melasma. They induce mild burns on the affected skin. The treated skin layer peels revealing a new, healthy skin layer of normal color. Chemicals used for such treatment include lactic acid, glycolic acid, azelaic acid, trichloroacetic acid and many different fruit extracts. Because chemical peels may have some sided effects, it is best to compare benefits and potential complications prior the very treatment.
One more way to remove hyperpigmentation is by using tretinoin. Finally, melasma may be removed with hydroquinone, a bleaching agent in a form of a cream. The last treatment option is laser therapy. This treatment is not a standard method of treating melasma but it can provide with positive results.