What is Melasma and to Treat it With Lasers
Are you looking for ways to treat skin disorders like melasma? Here guide answers the question, "What is melasma?" and explains how to treat it with lasers.
Keyword(s): melasma laser treatment, what is melasma, treating melasma
Are you struggling with melasma? It can feel frustrating looking in the mirror at those dark patches and not knowing what to do.
As it turns out, melasma is pretty common and has a wide array of available remedies. Medications, peels, and dermabrasion are only a few options. The melasma laser treatment is also on the rise, offering fast results with no downtime.
By knowing what melasma is, what its symptoms are, and how to deal with it, you can regain control of your skin. Keep reading for a detailed guide on melasma and how to treat it the right way.
What is Melasma?
The first step is understanding "what is melasma"? Before we can talk about treating this condition, it's important to know more about it. Melasma is a pretty common skin condition that mostly affects women.
It causes dark skin discoloration, most often on your face. Melasma on other parts of your body also occurs but is rarer. These marks or discolorations are usually symmetrical. This means they appear and look the same on both sides of your face.
Men can develop melasma, but it's estimated that 90 percent of people with melasma are women. It also goes by another name, called the "mask of pregnancy." This is because pregnant women have a higher chance of developing the condition.
In the case of melasma triggered by pregnancy, it's sometimes called chloasma instead. It's important to remember that melasma is not dangerous or life-threatening. It has some genetic and medical factors associated with your chance to get it but is purely cosmetic.
Melasma is flat, symmetrical, and is a skin pigment-related condition. If you notice textured or asymmetrical growths, you should get it checked by a professional. This is especially the case if they appear raised or change shape over time.
Causes Of Melasma
Studies are still ongoing, and we don't know for sure what causes melasma. What we do know is that there are certain melasma risk factors that make you more likely to develop it. The first major factor is skin color.
Those with darker skin are at increased risk of melasma than those with fairer skin. This is because melasma is usually a result of the overproduction of melanocytes. Melanocytes are the skin cells that control and affect pigmentation.
In other words, they create melanin, which affects skin color. Individuals with more melanin and thus more active melanocytes are more likely to experience melasma.
The other major risk factors include increased sensitivity to hormones, such as estrogen. People using hormonal birth control methods or undergoing hormonal therapy have a higher chance. Pregnancy can affect the likelihood in the same manner.
This is why melasma is often called the "mask of pregnancy." General stress and issues with your thyroid can also trigger melasma, but there hasn't been enough research to confirm that.
The last major risk factor is UV damage. Frequent sun exposure can increase your chances of developing not only melasma. Melanoma, AKA skin cancer, is only one serious condition that unprotected UV exposure can lead to.
Symptoms Of Melasma
The symptoms of melasma are quite straightforward. As mentioned above, melasma presents as dark symmetrical patches of skin discoloration. This discoloration most often manifests on your face.
Often melasma patches are brownish or dark grayish. The cheeks are the most common site for them, followed by the forehead. The nasal bridge and chin are less common but still frequent.
Although less common on the body, there are two areas to look for. The neck and arms are often exposed to UV rays, making them more prone to melasma. It is worth reiterating that melasma is only a cosmetic discoloration of your normal skin.
There shouldn't be any raised bumps, sensitivity, or sensations like pain or itching. In addition, melasma shouldn't appear as if it's growing quickly or changing shape often. If any of these unusual signs appear, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Treatment Options For Melasma
When it comes to how to treat melasma, there are a number of available methods. These start with waiting it out or applying topical creams and go all the way to medical solutions. Chemical peels, dermabrasion, and laser treatments can be very effective if used right.
It's important to discuss treatment options with your dermatologist before committing to one. Below we'll go into each of the major options.
Waiting It Out Or Dealing With Hormonal Triggers
Waiting for melasma to go away is a very situational solution. Since hormonal triggers like pregnancy can cause melasma, you can wait for those. In some cases, your melasma symptoms will disappear after pregnancy.
Making a few lifestyle changes, like switching to different contraceptives, can also help. Depending on your needs and what triggered your melasma, this might not work or be good enough. In that case, talk to your doctor about other options.
Creams, Ointments, And Homecare
Treating melasma with creams or ointments is another option worth looking into. Some of these work by helping to lighten the dark spots to restore balance. Over-the-counter retinol and acids like vitamin C can help.
Dermatologists may often prescribe these gentler methods first and may prescribe higher concentrations. Topical steroids and anti-inflammatory are also prescribed for skin lightening. Your doctors will work with you to iron out a medication plan that works.
In many cases, your dermatologist may prescribe a "triple combination cream." These medicated ointments contain a retinoid, an anti-inflammatory (usually a corticosteroid), and hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is a topical treatment for melasma and helps even out skin tone.
It can take as little as three months to a year to see significant results. It's essential to be patient and keep this in mind when trying to treat melasma. Even more intensive treatments are often done in combination with prescribed medications.
Chemical Peels, Microneedling, And Dermabrasion
For many patients having a hard time getting rid of melasma, these solutions are the next step. It's important to go over them with your doctor to ensure they're right for you. Chemical peels involve applying a solution to the areas affected by the melasma.
The goal is to slough off the excess pigment and expose the layer right underneath it. As your skin's natural regeneration kicks in, your new layer of skin should come in at a more even and natural tone. Think of it as helping your skin shed the melasma layer.
Microneedling works by triggering your skin's natural healing by making super small holes or tears in the skin. It repairs both the damage and the uneven skin tone as your skin heals. Dermabrasion, or microdermabrasion, uses the same principle as the chemical peel.
Microdermabrasion grinds it away rather than using chemicals to remove the problematic layer. A dermatologist uses a fancy machine to exfoliate your skin on a professional level. As the layer grows back, your skin tone should be more even.
Microdermabrasion is also often cheaper than chemical peels. It doesn't come with the same concerns about allergies either.
Melasma laser treatments are growing more and more popular. They are super effective for a range of skin conditions and are less invasive than chemical peels or dermabrasion. Skin sensitivity can also make those other treatments less effective for some people.
It's important to note that lasers are usually for those looking for fast, lasting results. Medications, peels, and dermabrasion work well for many people. It's best to consult your doctor about a treatment plan before considering laser treatments right away.
Fractional laser resurfacing, also known as Fraxel, is one of the most common. It works by making tiny holes in your skin via laser, similar to micro-needling. This kickstarts your skin to grow newer, more healthy cells during the repair process.
Your dermatologist will numb your skin before the procedure. Take note that you may also experience a bit of skin sensitivity, which is normal. Within three days, however, you'll notice healthier and more even skin.
The other major laser method is IPL or Intense Pulsed Light. This one uses pulses of different light wavelengths to go after specific colors. It doesn't work for all skin tones and could even worsen melasma if used the wrong way.
For this reason, consulting your dermatologist is crucial.
Melasma Laser Treatment And Other Options
Melasma is a pretty common skin condition that affects many people. It can be difficult and annoying to deal with, and we aren't sure what actually causes it. That said, there are many available remedies, including peels and melasma laser treatment.
Coordinating with quality dermatologists is a crucial step in your journey. At Laser Spot, we are some of the best and can help you with all your skin and facial needs. So contact us today, and let's achieve healthier, more radiant skin together.