What is melasma?
Melasma, also called ‘chloasma’, is a light to dark brown or greyish pigmentation, mainly on the face. The name comes from melas, the Greek word for black. It is more common in women and people with darker skin-types who live in sunny climates. Melasma usually becomes more noticeable in the summer and improves during the winter months.
What causes melasma?
The exact cause is unknown, but pregnancy, hormonal drugs such as the contraceptive pill, and very occasionally medical conditions which affect the hormone levels. Some cosmetics, especially those containing a perfume essential oil such as bergamot, can also bring on melasma. There is research to suggest that it can be triggered by stress. Sunshine and the use of sunbeds usually worsen any tendency to melasma.
How is melasma diagnosed?
Our experienced nurse practitioners here at MBNS and Qutis Clinics can diagnose melasma during consultation. It is usually easily recognised by the characteristics of the pigmentation and its distribution on the face.
MBNS and Qutis treatment for melasma?
There are several treatment options which may improve the appearance of melasma. Superficial pigmentation is easier to treat than deep pigmentation. If melasma occurs during pregnancy, it may resolve on its own within a few months after delivery and treatment may not be necessary.
We here at MBNS and Qutis may use a combination of the following treatments to treat melasma. Treatments are both machine and product based:
Cosmetic camouflage such as the Lycogel range of foundations.
Sun protection such as the iS Clinical SPF 50.
Skin affected by melasma darkens more than the surrounding skin with exposure to sunlight, so sun-avoidance and sun-protection are crucial. Broad-spectrum sunscreens, with a high protection SPF 50 should be applied daily throughout the year, and broad-brimmed hats are recommended. In particular, avoidance and protection measures should be employed during the period of most intense sunshine. Sunbeds should never be used.
Self care (What can I do?)
The most important thing you can do if you have melasma is to adhere to the following:
Avoid known trigger factors, such as the oral contraceptive pill or perfumed cosmetics.
Protect your skin from undue sunlight exposure. This involves using sunscreens which protect against both UVA and UVB light, with a sun protection factor of at least 50, wearing broad-brimmed hats, and avoiding direct exposure to sunlight (see the ‘top sun safety tips’ below for more information).
If your melasma improves with treatment, in order for the improvement to be maintained, you should continue to protect your skin from the sun.
Top sun safety tips to prevent melasma
1. Protect your skin with clothing, and don’t forget to wear a hat that protects your face, neck and ears, and a pair of UV protective sunglasses.
2. Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm when it’s sunny. Step out of the sun before your skin has a chance to redden or burn.
3. When choosing a sunscreen look for a high protection SPF (SPF 30 or more) to protect against UVB, and the UVA circle logo and/or 4 or 5 UVA stars to protect against UVA. Apply plenty of sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun, and reapply every two hours and straight after swimming and towel-drying.
4. Keep babies and young children out of direct sunlight.
5. Sunscreens should not be used as an alternative to clothing and shade, rather they offer additional protection. No sunscreen will provide 100% protection.
6. It may be worth taking Vitamin D supplement tablets (available from health food stores) as strictly avoiding sunlight can reduce Vitamin D levels.
If you would like to find out more about the many skin treatments and products we have at MBNS and Qutis Clinics, such as wrinkle treatments, IPL for the removal of sun damaged skin and fat dissolving injections, kindly call MBNS on 01844 213007 or Qutis on 01993 704050 and we will get back to you swiftly. Alternatively, if you would prefer to contact us by email, CLICK HERE for MBNS and CLICK HERE for Qutis.