Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation triggered by hormonal changes in the body (however, sun certainly doesn't help). It isn't painful and doesn't present any health risks but can cause significant emotional distress for the women who develop these dark patches on their faces. Because it can be difficult to treat, minimising triggers is important. It isn't painful and doesn't present any health risks but can cause significant emotional distress for the women who develop these dark patches on their faces. Because it can be difficult to treat, minimising triggers is important.
This form of hyperpigmentation tends to show up in more localised areas on the face, such as the forehead, nose, cheeks, and the upper lip (sometimes called the melasma moustache)—and is less common on the body. These tend to form clusters together—and can appear quite large. Since these are triggered by hormonal changes, you may experience it when making birth control adjustments, are pregnant, or are going through menopause.
Oestrogen and progesterone sensitivity are also associated with the condition. This means birth control pills, pregnancy, and hormone therapy can all trigger melasma. Stress and thyroid disease are also thought to be causes of melasma.
Additionally, sun exposure can cause melasma because ultraviolet rays affect the cells that control pigment (melanocytes).
How to manage melasma:
For some women, melasma disappears on its own. This typically occurs when it’s caused by pregnancy or birth control pills.
There are creams your healthcare professional can prescribe that can lighten the skin. They might also prescribe topical steroids to help lighten the affected areas. If these don’t work, chemical peels, dermabrasion, and microdermabrasion are possible options. These treatments strip away the top layers of skin and may help lighten dark patches.
- Since these are hormonal, you may want to visit your health care practitioner who can guide you on the right choices to make regarding balancing your hormones.
As they can worsen due to the sun, protect the skin with SPF always!