What is Melasma?
Before you ask “how to get rid of age spots”, one should realise, those age spots might actually be another form of hyperpigmentation called Melasma.
Melasma is a common dermatological condition that causes patches of greyish - brown pigmentation on the face. It develops when the melanocytes in the skin overproduce melanin, leading to discoloration on certain parts of the skin. The severity varies significantly, and can lead to embarrassment and psychological distress.
It most commonly occurs on the nose, forehead, chin, cheeks and above the lip. Less common manifestations of the condition may appear on other parts of the body that get increased exposure to the sun’s UV rays, such as the arms and legs.
Melasma Risk Factors
More common in women than men, particularly those who tan easily.
People with darker skin such as Indians.
It may have a genetic link as it runs strongly in families.
Common between the ages of 20 and 40, but it can start in childhood or late adulthood.
There is a significant link between melasma or age spots and the hormonal fluctuation that comes with reaching adulthood, pregnancy and menopause.
Pregnant women often develop melasma during or after pregnancy, resulting in what is is sometimes known as a “pregnancy mask.”
Is Melasma Dangerous?
Melasma is not a dangerous condition. However, the condition does appear similar to many dangerous forms of skin cancer and may cause concern for patients. It is essential to get a dermatological examination to determine that what appears to be melasma is not actually a more dangerous condition. Additionally, many patients may feel emotional distress as a result of the condition.
How to Prevent Melasma
While many cases of melasma are genetic and therefore unpreventable, the condition also has many avoidable causes.
Sun exposure is the leading avoidable cause of melasma, and prevention is as simple as avoiding prolonged, direct exposure to the sun. The use of sunscreen protection can also prevent the development of melasma.
Medications and skin products may also trigger the development of melasma, especially those that cause a phototoxic reaction in the skin. These chemicals alter the skin’s natural melanocyte production, resulting in the overproduction that leads to blotchy areas of dark pigmentation.
How to Treat Melasma and How to Get Rid of Age Spots
Melasma can fade on its own. This usually happens when the trigger such as pregnancy or birth control pills ceases to exist.
Some people, however, have melasma for years — or even a lifetime. If the melasma does not go away or a woman wants to keep taking birth control pills, melasma treatments are available. These include:
If medicine you apply to your skin does not get rid of your melasma, a procedure may succeed. Procedures for melasma include a chemical peel or laser treatment.
Chemical peels involve the gradual removal of the top layers of skin through a carefully managed series of treatments. This procedure reveals the skin underneath that has not been as heavily pigmented by the sun or hormonal causes.
Laser resurfacing may provide similar results through pulsating beams that remove the top layer of skin in small segments. Only a dermatologist should perform these procedures.
New skin problems can occur when the person who gives the treatment does not tailor it to the patient’s skin type.
Ask your dermatologist about possible side effects (health problems that can result from the treatment).
If you notice any of the following after getting treatment for melasma, be sure to call your dermatologist:
Darkening of the skin
Dr Gauri’s Skin & Hair Clinic can provide information and help for patients who want to learn how to get rid of age spots. It is essential to work with a trained dermatological professional that understands the both the cosmetic and emotional aspects of melasma treatment.