Melasma, or “pregnancy mask”, is a very common condition that represents itself as patchy brown facial skin discoloration and is almost exclusively found in women in their reproductive years (that’s why they call it “pregnancy mask”). Melasma usually appears on the cheeks, forehead, chin and upper lip of women anywhere from 20 – 50 years old. Men rarely experience this type of hyperpigmentation.
Most women with this type of skin discoloration either have a history of regular sun exposure, are pregnant and/or have olive or darker tones of skin, such as Latin, Asian and Middle Eastern ethnicities. In some cases, Melasma can be so severe that it can’t be masked with make-up and may cause the sufferer to be quite self-conscious of her appearance.
What actually causes Melasma to occur is unknown, but we do know that uncontrolled exposure to sunlight is considered the leading factor, especially in people with a genetic predisposition for hyperpigmentation. Most cases of Melasma develop in the summer months, when the ultraviolet rays from the sun cause high melanin production in the skin cells. Normal skin discolouration (one might call it a “tan”) usually fades and becomes less visible in the winter. In the case of actual “pregnancy mask”, it’s thought that Melasma is caused by increased levels of progesterone. In many cases the hyperpigmentation fades after giving birth.
If your skin discolouration doesn’t fade it’s probably not a tan. Luckily there are a few options to consider to treat Melasma. The most common treatments for hypergimentation of the skin include creams with 2% and 4% hydroquinone, a medicine used to lighten the dark patches. We recommend patients try VivierSkin® or ZO® Skin Care products.
The Fraxel® Laser is another treatment option. Unlike creams, this skin rejuvenation laser treats the hyperpigmentation deep below the skin’s surface. Depending on the severity of the Melasma, we may recommend combining this treatment with a product line to provide you with a better, longer-lasting result.
All Melasma treatments must be combined with sunscreen usage to decrease the skin’s exposure to sun.
If you think you might have Melasma or permanent hyperpigmentation, contact us to schedule your complimentary consultation today and we will provide you with a customized solution to fit your needs.