A specific type of discoloration, melasma is a common skin condition that affects both women and men, although it is much more prevalent in women. Many people who experience melasma or other skin discolorations, including sun spots and acne scars, seek treatment options to help improve the appearance and radiance of their skin tone and texture. Typically, the most effective treatment regimen for melasma includes a combination of professional skincare products and procedures along with healthy lifestyle choices.
What Is Melasma?
Melasma, also often called “the pregnancy mask,” is a common skin condition that results in gray-brown spots or patches of skin. While most commonly found on the face, melasma can appear on other parts of the body as well, especially areas that are frequently exposed to the sun (American Academy of Dermatology). This condition gets its nickname from the fact that it frequently occurs in pregnant women, and it is thought to be related to hormone fluctuations. Although there is currently no permanent cure for melasma, there are a number of ways that it can be treated and controlled.
1. Use Sun Protection
One of the most effective ways to reduce the effect and appearance of melasma is routine, daily sun protection, each and every day, as the sun is one of the largest contributors to its symptoms. A complete sun protection strategy should include daily sunscreen of at least SPF 30 or higher, as well as wearing sun protective clothing such as sun hats, cover-ups and sunglasses when outdoors. Keep in mind, too, that the sun’s UV rays can penetrate clouds and are still present and strong in the cooler winter months.
2. Avoid Triggers
In addition to hormones and sunshine, many women notice that melasma symptoms can be triggered by a number of other factors, which may include:
- Heat from sitting by a fire, spending time in the sauna or even cooking in a hot kitchen can trigger melasma flare-ups.
- Poor sleep habits can alter your body’s hormone levels and may hinder its ability to properly function, which can contribute to unwanted skin conditions such as discoloration.
- Stress can trigger melasma and other skin conditions by causing the body to produce the stress hormone cortisol, which has also been linked with excess oil production in the skin (American Academy of Dermatology).
- Irritating skincare ingredients such as parabens, sulfates or some chemical sunscreens can cause flare-ups of a variety of skin problems, including melasma, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis.
3. Use Gentle Skincare Products
To avoid unnecessary irritation and flare-ups of certain skin conditions, look for skincare products that are dermatologist-tested and non-comedogenic, meaning that they’ve been formulated not to clog pores. It can also be helpful to double-check the ingredients in the products that you use every day to make sure that you’re using the gentlest and most effective formulas that won’t lead to irritation. Skinbetter science proprietary and revolutionary AlphaRet™ Overnight Cream FACE is the result of combining two gold-standard anti-aging ingredients–a retinoid and an alpha hydroxy acid–into one formula. When used separately, these ingredients have been shown to cause skin irritation, but when successfully combined as double conjugated molecule, it has been clinically demonstrated to have little to no irritation. Thus, this formula makes it possible to achieve the appearance of a smoother, more youthful complexion without leaving your skin looking flaky and feeling irritated.
4. Seek Professional Treatment
If melasma or other skin discoloration issues become unmanageable on your own, seek professional treatment from your dermatologist. He or she may recommend treatments such as microdermabrasion or laser resurfacing to help improve skin tone and texture. Additionally, there are a number of topical creams and medications that your dermatologist may prescribe to help alleviate your symptoms. For more information about how to treat and manage melasma, find a professional in your area.
Although a common skin issue, melasma can be difficult to predict. If you’re concerned with seemingly sudden skin discoloration, melasma may be to blame. Start by making a few adjustments to your skincare routine and lifestyle, such as using plenty of sun protection and maintaining a healthy diet, to help manage flare-ups. If you still aren’t noticing an improvement in the look and feel of your complexion, consult your dermatologist for more information.