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Here’s *Everything* You Need To Know About Melasma

First off all, it’s harmless. 
PHOTO: Adobe Stock

If you see some dark patches on your face, there's no need to *panic*. These grayish-brown blotches (which usually appear on the cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin) may signal a skin condition called melasma, and yes, it's harmless. But while it isn't painful or itchy, it can still be bothersome to some people. 

What causes melasma? 

Melasma is a lot more common than you think, especially among women, and here's why: 

  • Hormonal Changes - According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, many women see these discolorations on their face "during pregnancy or when they start taking birth control pills." Fluctuations in hormones, such as during pregnancy, birth control usage, hormone therapy, or menopause, can trigger melasma. 
  • Sun Exposure - Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun stimulate the production of melanin, a.k.a. the pigment responsible for skin color. Overexposure to the sun can worsen melasma and make it more prominent. 
  • Genetics - If you have a family history of melasma, you might be more predisposed to developing it. Genetic factors play a role in determining who is more susceptible.
  • Ethnicity - People with darker skin tones, particularly those of Asian, Hispanic, or African descent, are more prone to melasma due to their *higher* levels of melanin.

Does melasma go away on its own over time? 

Melasma may fade over time. But for some people, it can last for yearsor even a lifetime. It's quite challenging to treat, which is why it's to best to see a dermatologist to find out the right treatment for you. 

The Most Common Melasma Treatments 

  • Topical Treatments - Prescription creams containing ingredients like hydroquinone, retinoids, corticosteroids, and kojic acid can help lighten melasma patches over time by reducing melanin production and promoting cell turnover.
  • Chemical Peels - A dermatologist can perform chemical peels using alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) to exfoliate the skin and fade melasma spots. Deeper peels with ingredients like trichloroacetic acid (TCA) may also be used.
  • Laser Therapy - Laser treatments, such as fractional lasers and intense pulsed light (IPL), target the melanin in melasma patches to break it down. These treatments can be effective but often require multiple sessions.

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  • Microdermabrasion - This non-invasive procedure involves using a machine to exfoliate the top layer of skin, helping to improve the appearance of melasma patches. It's milder than some other treatments and may require several sessions.
  • Combination Therapies - Dermatologists often recommend combining different treatments for better results. For example, a combination of topical treatments, chemical peels, and laser therapy might be tailored to a person's needs.

How can you effectively prevent melasma? 

The best way to prevent melasma is pretty simple: Wear sunscreen every single day—and yes, even when it's cloudy. As mentioned earlier, melasma is often triggered or worsened by sun exposure. That said, sunscreens help prevent existing melasma patches from getting darker, and it keeps new blotches from forming, too. As they say, prevention is better than cure. 

In an interview with Who What Wear, board-certified dermatologist Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, FAAD, shared that it's best to look for a "broad-spectrum SPF protection 30 or higher." She explained, "Importantly, look for the active ingredients of zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide." 

sunscreen for melasma

CeraVe Hydrating Face Sunscreen SPF 50, Lightweight Mineral Sunscreen, P1,250, Lazada

supergoop mineral sheerscreen

Supergoop Mineral Sheerscreen SPF50 PA++++, P2,450, 

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