10 Ways to Reduce Melasma
Natural Skin Lightening Melasma Creams are made especially for Melasma sufferers and can be used for any type of Melasma type skin discolouration. One such product is Nur76 Advanced Melasma Cream. This product targets the melasma affected areas and lightens them. In most cases the melasma will completely disappear in 3 months. Use the cream twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the evening. You can buy Nur76 Melasma Cream here.
- Sun blocks are great for prevention and minimising dark spots and patches around the face. They are great used in conjunction with any other natural treatment
- Hydroquinone and tretinoin topicals inhibit melanin but can also lighten surrounding skin and cause redness. Dermalogica Skin Brightening System is a three-month treatment reportedly good at treating mild recurring Melasma. Must be prescribed by the doctor.
- Bleaching creams can work on surface melasma, but most are too mild and most stipulate use for 'uneven skintone', which does not mean melasma. Melasma needs to be specified. Can leave other marks and have diverse effects
- Clinical treatments Lasers are sometimes seen as a hyper-pigmentation solution, the British Association of Dermatologists however does not recommend them for Melasma.
- Glycolic acid used in chemical peels, often with hydroquinone, can work for some sufferers. Scarring and hypo-pigmentation (the reverse problem, when skin develops light spots) can occur, so consult a qualified dermatologist before opting for this treatment.
- The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons gives good advice on melasma on its website, baaps.org.uk. It also recommends dermatologists for consultation (020-7405 2234).
- Oral supplements MSM sulphur which can be taken to reduce the signs of Melasma. MSM (methysulphorylmethane) is a natural sulphur which some Melasma sufferers find helpful. Try Healthy Direct MSM Sulphur £5 for 60 tablets, 0800-011 1234.
- SkinCeuticals Ultimate UV Defense SPF45, £35 (020-8997 8541)
- Camouflage cosmetics can also be used to cover Melasma. Jane IredalEnlighten Concealer is made for covering Melasma. £25, 0845-230 1770.
Melasma Association UK
Help & Advice for people suffering from Melasma
The Melasma (Chloasma) FACTS & ADVICE sheet
Learn how to reduce or eliminate the dark patches caused by Melasma.
Melasma is also known as Chloasma & Mask of Pregnancy
Melasma is a skin condition that can occur at any point in life. It is simply a type of skin discolouration found on areas of the face which has been exposed to the sun. Studies have revealed that people with darker or asian skin tones have a higher chance of developing the condition. It has been around for a number of years and can be avoided or treated in many ways.
There are three types of hypermelanosis. It could be either epidermal (brown), dermal (blue-grey), or a mixture of both (brown-grey).
It is much easier to avoid than treat but treatments have been proven to be very successful in completely eradicating all the signs of darker skin on and around the face.
Melasma can be very worrying if never seen or heard of before but the fact remains that the percentage of complete eradication is very high if treated safely and correctly.
Causes of all types of Melasma
There are many factors that can cause Melasma, whether it be a mild or severe form it is usually associated with one or a combination of the below:
- It is often associated with the female hormone oestrogen and progesterone therefore much more common in pregnant women, women taking oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during the menopause.
- Sun exposure is also a very strong risk factor
- Hormonal imbalances in the body can also trigger Melasma on the face
- Light- all types including UVA, fluorescent and even computer screens can prompt the onset of this type of condition.
All, some or even one of the above are found in nearly all Melasma sufferers. The percentage of women that suffer from this is around 92%, the percentage is further subdided between pregnant women and women with asian skintones. Treatments and cures that exist are many. Careful attention needs to be paid to the prevention, minimisation and treatments instead of a quick fix cure. Advice, persistence and patience usually leads to complete elimination.
The most promising cures and treatments
Treatment hinges on the type you have. Epidermal and dermal melasma respond differently to treatment (dermal is notoriously resistant), so you need diagnosis first from a dermatologist.
Epidermal, on the other hand is quite easily treated if persistent with the type of treatment or treatments.
The best way to minimise both types however would be:
1. To stay out of the sun to ensure that any dark patches don’t darken further.
2. Apply a sun block twice daily with an SPF factor of 30 or above to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
3. Apply face creams that are specially designed to minimise Melasma to work alongside the active ingredients in the sun blocks.
Treatments for Melasma using NON-NATURAL methods (23-38% success rate)
Bleaching creams can work on surface melasma, but most are too mild and most stipulate use for 'uneven skintone', which does not mean melasma. Melasma needs to be specified.
Hydroquinone and tretinoin topicals inhibit melanin but can also lighten surrounding skin and cause redness. Dermalogica Skin Brightening System is a three-month treatment reportedly good at treating mild recurring Melasma.
Clinical treatments Lasers are sometimes seen as a hyper-pigmentation solution, the British Association of Dermatologists however does not recommend them for Melasma.
Glycolic acid used in chemical peels, often with hydroquinone, can work for some sufferers. Scarring and hypo-pigmentation (the reverse problem, when skin develops light spots) can occur, so consult a qualified dermatologist before opting for this treatment.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons gives good advice on melasma on its website, baaps.org.uk. It also recommends dermatologists for consultation (020-7405 2234).
Treatments for Melasma using NATURAL methods
(42-98% success rate- when used in conjunction with other natural methods)
Oral supplements MSM sulphur which can be taken to reduce the signs of Melasma. MSM (methysulphorylmethane) is a natural sulphur which some Melasma sufferers find helpful. Try Healthy Direct MSM Sulphur £5 for 60 tablets, 0800-011 1234.
Sun blocks are great for prevention and minimising dark spots and patches around the face. They are great used in conjunction with any other natural treatment.
SkinCeuticals Ultimate UV Defense SPF45, £35 (020-8997 8541).
Skin lightening Melasma Creams are made especially for Melasma sufferers and can be used for any type of Melasma type skin discolouration.
UK Skin lightening (Nur76) Melasma cream, £85.
Camouflage cosmetics can also be used to cover Melasma. Jane IredaleEnlighten Concealer is made for covering Melasma. £25, 0845-230 1770.
Advantages and disadvantages of using NATURAL and NON-NATURAL methods of Melasma treatments
Natural methods exist for every kind of anxiety or illness. They are advised by nearly all the medical professionals and are usually the healthiest treatments around. Natural means that all the ingredients are harmless to the skin in any way. They are found in the extracts of plants and trees and are the best form of cure in itself.
They are usually cheaper. Once the desired result is achieved there is no need to continue to use the treatment or treatments.
They usually take longer to work and do not show immediate results which leads to its downfall. If persistent the desired results will show within 3-6 months.
Acids and chemicals are used to eliminate skin discolouration or dark patches in a bid to treat it faster in comparison to a natural methods. They are usually harmless to the skin if the percentage concentration of the acids are very small. They do work for some people, however there may be side effects.
Chemicals and acids can affect the layers of the skin. New skin would also be affected even if not obvious until it has fully formed.
In some cases chemical peels are used so the skin would need to be broken and then peeled for new skin. This does not always guarantee the desired result but if done correctly could create a fresh layer of skin.
The cost of treatments would usually range from £400 to £5,000.
Side effects are also a disadvantage. They are more likely to happen as the skin is much more sensitive to ingredients such as hydroquinone. Side effects could include skin peeling, darker patches and the release of histamine (itching around the face) etc.
Pregnancy can be a very emotional mother or mother-to be according to the American Academy of Dermatology, up to 70 percent of pregnant women develop blotchy areas of darkened skin, commonly called the mask of pregnancy (but officially known as chloasma or melasma).
Women with darker complexions are more prone to this condition than women with lighter skin. The effects of chloasma may become more pronounced with each pregnancy.
The splotches can show up around your upper lip, nose, cheekbones, and forehead, sometimes in the shape of a mask (think Lone Ranger). They may also appear on your cheeks or along your jawline. You may develop dark patches on your forearms and other parts of your body that are exposed to the sun.
What's more, you may find that skin that is already more pigmented — such as your nipples, freckles, scars, and the skin around your genitals — becomes even darker during pregnancy. This also tends to happen in areas prone to friction, such as your underarms and inner thighs.
These changes are caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy, which stimulate a temporary increase in your body's production of melanin, the natural substance that gives color to hair, skin, and eyes. The areas of increased pigmentation will probably fade within a few months after delivery and your skin should return to its normal shade, although in some women the changes never completely disappear.
Can I do anything to prevent skin discolorations during pregnancy?
Skin pigmentation changes usually disappear on their own after delivery, but you can do a few things to safely minimize them in the meantime:
• Protect yourself from the sun: This is crucial because exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays intensifies pigment changes. Use a broad-spectrum sunblock (a formula that protects against both UVA and UVB rays) with SPF 30 or higher every day, whether it's sunny or not, and reapply often during the course of the day if you're outside.
In fact, even if you don't plan to leave the house or spend much time outside, make applying sun protection part of your morning routine. The American Academy of Dermatology cautions that your skin is exposed to a significant amount of UV light when you do things like walk down the street, ride in a car, or even sit inside near a window.
When you're outside, cover up and wear a hat with a brim, as well as a shirt with long sleeves if you have pigmentation changes on your arms. Limit the time you spend in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. And definitely avoid tanning salons.
• Use gentle cleansers and facial creams. Preparations that irritate your skin may make the problem worse.
• Apply a concealing makeup. (Don't use skin-bleaching products now. Wait to see if the pigmentation changes go away after you give birth.)
What about after my pregnancy?
After you have your baby, continue to protect your skin from the sun! Use sunscreen, cover up, and stay out of the sun at midday. In most cases, the discolorations will slowly fade without any treatment.
For a small number of women, however, contraceptives that contain estrogen (such as the Pill, the patch, and the vaginal ring) can contribute to chloasma. If the skin changes are bothersome, consider another birth control option.
If your skin is still blotchy after a few months and it's bothering you, talk to your practitioner or a dermatologist about treatment options. She may suggest using a bleaching cream that contains hydroquinone (some of which also contain sunscreen), a topical medication that contains tretinoin (Retin-A), or a chemical peel such as glycolic acid. Of course, if you're breastfeeding or plan on becoming pregnant again soon, be sure to let your practitioners know and also check in before using any over-the-counter treatments.
Don't expect instant results — it may take many months to see improvement. In rare cases, dermatologists can use laser treatments to remove the darkened skin, but that's not the first option. Whatever approach you take, it's crucial to continue protecting yourself from the sun during treatment and afterward.
Are these skin changes ever a sign of illness?
Certain types of skin discoloration can be a symptom of skin cancer or other medical problems, so let your practitioner know if changes in skin pigmentation are accompanied by pain, tenderness, redness, or bleeding, or if you notice any changes in the color, shape, or size of a mole. You may be referred to a dermatologist who can determine the cause of the changes and the appropriate treatment, if any.