"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Dark spots on the face might be melasma.

You can have heard that melasma known as the “mask of pregnancy” since it is usually triggered by a rise in hormones in pregnant women. But while the condition might be common amongst pregnant women, you don't must be pregnant to experience melasma.

Melasma might be difficult to treat.

Although melasma isn't painful and poses no health risk, it could actually cause significant emotional distress. Dr. Kurosh says the condition might be difficult to treat, and there's lots of misinformation about its causes.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you're more prone to have melasma if you've got a darker skin tone, probably because your skin naturally has more lively pigment-producing cells. Melasma appears when these cells turn into overactive and produce an excessive amount of pigment in certain areas of the skin. Melasma is more common in women, but it could actually affect men as well. It can have a genetic component, because it often runs in families.

Causes of Melasma

Dr. Korosh says there are lots of different causes of melasma. Two particularly stand out:

  • Hormones (including hormonal drugs). Fluctuations in certain hormones may cause melasma, which is why it often occurs while pregnant. Dr. Gilchrist says melasma may also occur once you either start or stop hormonal contraception, including contraception pills, or once you take hormone alternative therapy.
  • Sun exposure. The sun is the most important perpetrator in triggering melasma. “Underlying factors such as hormonal changes may not show up until a person goes on vacation to a southern location like Florida, or during the summer when they spend more time in the sun,” says Dr. Korosh. “The sun is a major increasing factor, whatever the underlying cause.” Melasma might be caused or worsened not only by the sun's rays, but in addition by heat and visual light. This signifies that even sunscreens that protect against skin cancer aren't enough to forestall melasma, Dr. Korosh says. This makes treating melasma a challenge, especially throughout the summer months.

Finding the Cause of Melasma

The first step is to substantiate that the dark spots are indeed melasma and check out to discover the cause. Melasma treatment is unlikely to be effective if the underlying cause isn't addressed, says Dr. Korosh. “Even the oral treatments that are now available for severe cases of melasma are really pointless to do, if there's still a trigger,” she says. “We take a thorough medical history to find out what's causing the melasma,” says Dr. Korosh. Then adjustments are made. If hormonal contraception is causing the issue, a girl may consider switching to a non-hormonal option, similar to a copper intrauterine device.

Medications and treatment of conditions

Some commonly used options are topical retinols and retinoid treatments, that are applied to the skin to assist speed up your body's natural cell turnover process. This will help the dark spots clear up faster on their very own. In addition, some doctors may prescribe bleaching agents, similar to hydroquinone, which work by blocking melanin production. But while hydroquinone products might be purchased over-the-counter, they need to only be used under a health care provider's supervision and only on dark areas of skin. “High doses of hydroquinone can cause white patches on the skin,” says Dr. Gilchrist. The drug might also cause skin darkening in some cases. Other topical lightening agents (similar to kojic acid or azelaic acid) could also be beneficial. Other treatment options may include chemical peels, laser treatments, and microneedling of the skin. But in the intervening time they're not reliably effective, says Dr. Gilchrist.

An vital a part of treatment: protect the skin from the sun.

Avoiding the sun from worsening the condition could be very vital. This may require extreme diligence. “The sun is more powerful than any medicine I can give you,” says Dr. Korosh. The most vital option to clear up melasma is to make use of a robust sunscreen. But take into accout that not all sunscreens are created equal. To prevent melasma, you wish a sunscreen that not only blocks the sun's rays, but in addition its light and warmth, similar to zinc or titanium dioxide. Chemical sunscreens don't offer the identical protection for melasma, and in some cases, they will even trigger allergic reactions that could make melasma worse, she says.