What To Do When The Mask Called Melasma Shows Up On Your Face
Melasma is a common, yet very unwelcome skin problem. It causes brown to gray-brown patches on the face, primarily on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin, and above the upper lip. While it may also appear on other parts of the body, it tends to cause more emotional distress when appearing on the face.
Melasma Caused By Hormones
Most often, melasma appears as a result of taking contraceptives, during pregnancy and/or as a result of breastfeeding. It is often referred to as “the mask of pregnancy.” Melasma is a condition that is hormone related and occurs most commonly in women though infrequently melasma also appears in some men.
Melasma is not easy to treat and sun exposure deepens the color. So, it’s important if you have melasma to use the best sunscreen you can and reapply every 2 hours. Also, whenever you are outdoors, you will be more protected if you also wear a wide brimmed hat.
While there are many topical creams and lotions used to lighten melasma, there are also other ways to treat it that are becoming popular. Among those are laser treatments and microneedling.
A word of caution: If you have melasma, or any darkening that is hormone related, don’t allow anyone but an expert to perform either laser or microneedling procedures on your face. Many lasers will make melasma worse, not better. If you are considering either type of treatment for melasma, it is important to go to an expert laser center.
Microneedling has grown exponentially in recent years. This treatment provides an effective physical method that enhances the delivery of topical ingredients for various skin conditions without causing heat on the skin. Microneedling can be performed with a roller, or pen, which is covered with multiple tiny needles. The needles range in length and can penetrate into the skin up to 2 mm. This treatment stimulates collagen production and also facilitates the penetration of corrective products through the skin. However, this treatment method can still trigger an inflammatory response, since it is designed to cause minor trauma. If too much trauma is induced it could lead to a worsening of the pigmentation. This is why it is always imperative to only allow experienced experts to perform microneedling and laser treatments on your face.
Treatments Used Alone Or In Combination With Micropeeling and Laser
Light glycolic peels are often used either solely or in combination with microneedling and/or laser therapy. Once again, seek out aestheticians who are expertly trained to use different strengths of glycolic acid. If the nurse or aesthetician isn’t experienced, sometimes the acid can be absorbed more in one spot than another and leave temporary irritation and a dark mark. Darker skin is more susceptible to this than lighter skin.
Glycolic peels can also go deep enough that they can occasionally form a blister, but scarring is rare. If you do decide to go the peel route for melasma, I recommend that you find a doctor-supervised nurse or aesthetician experienced in performing these peels.
Neel Kanase, MD
American Laser Med Spa