What you need to know about Melasma

Written By: Belinda Stewart

Melasma is as tricky as it gets.  It appears when least wanted and takes time for it to go away.  Sometimes easily treated and sometimes a total bear.  What we do know is that prevention is key.  Let’s start with what this beasty bear is.

Melasma is a common unfortunate skin problem that causes brown to gray-brown patches on the face and sometimes on the body.  Most people get it on their cheeks, bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, and above their upper lip. It can also appear on other parts of the body that get lots of sun, such as the forearms and neck.  It is thought to be the stimulation of melanocytes (cells in the epidermal layer of skin that produce a pigment called melanin) by the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone to produce more melanin pigments when the skin is exposed to sun.

Genetic predisposition is a common factor in determining whether someone will develop Melasma and women are far more likely than men to get it.  Melasma is so common during pregnancy that some people call it the mask of pregnancy since hormones seem to trigger it.  There are many other factors that may contribute to this condition, but one thing is for certain.  Sun protection is key to prevention. 

Stopping the stimulation of the melanocytes will certainly reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation.  So how do we do this?  Stay out of the Sun?  While this might be an easy answer, it proves to be quite difficult.  We get sun by driving our cars as the sun bounces off of our dashboards.  Walking in and out of grocery stores, into work, gardening, the list goes on and on.  We are not completely safe wearing a hat under an umbrella lying next to the pool.  There are so many ways the sun’s rays reach us even when least expected.  Prevention is primarily focused on sun protection and sun avoidance. 

Each year, new prevention arrives in the form of lightening creams and ointments.  Hydroquinone has been around for quite a while and works great at bleaching those pesky spots.  However, it does not cure the underlying issue of production of the melanocytes.  SkinMedica released a skin brightening system in March that I have heard rave reviews about from our clientele.  Included in this system is the ever popular Lytera 2.0 that actually works on stopping the production of these said melanocytes.  All full-size -size products it includes a Retinol, AHA/BHA cleanser and cream, light moisturizer, and my personal favorite, the Total Defense  and Repair. This kit is called the Lytera 2.0 Advanced Pigment Correcting System.

Thru the years, I have tried many different products for my skin care regime, some working well and some not.  I have found in our practice, most clients absolutely love this product line and that includes me.  Being 44 years old suffering from the ill-fated dark spots, I don’t trust my skin to many over the counter skin care lines.  I love that these products are medically dispensed and formulated.  They are tried and true to their claims with statistical published reports saying so.  Not to be over the top or pressure selling, but as a nurse, this means something to me.  Are there other products out there that work just as well?  I am sure there are, but the SkinMedica line has proven to me to be the best for my skin. 

So protect yourself this summer with Prevention and Protection.  It is the number one way to prevent Melasma, dark brown spots, and signs of aging. 

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