A common skin concern I see in the early fall months following a summer of sun exposure is melasma. Melasma is a disorder of pigmentation that affects females. It presents as tan, brown, or gray-brown discolored freckles and patches on sun-exposed areas, primarily on the sun-exposed areas of the face (cheeks, upper lip, forehead).
WHAT IS MELASMA:
You may have heard of melasma as the “mask of pregnancy”, since the hormonal changes during pregnancy are a common triggering factor. Other causative factors for melasma are oral birth control pills, sunlight, and heat.
HOW TO TREAT AND MANAGE MELASMA:
Melasma is a treatable condition, but is not curable. Treatment focuses on lightening the discoloration. However, it is also essential to consider sun protection into your daily skin care routine to prevent worsening and recurrences. This can be accomplished with daily broad spectrum sunscreen with 30+ SPF. Tinted sunscreens with zinc oxide, iron oxide, titanium dioxide are recommended since they create a physical barrier for sunlight. Recommended sunscreen brands include EltaMD and Revision. It is also recommended to wear wide-brimmed hats and seek shade when able.
Various topical medications and skin care products can be used to achieve skin lightening. These include prescription strength hydroquinone with kojic acid, tretinoin, and azelaic acid. Topical vitamin C and tranexamic acid can be other great additional skin care products to add to your routine. In office procedures such as chemical peels and microneedling can also be utilized. Most of these products are not pregnancy safe, so if you are dealing with the “mask of pregnancy”, please consult with our providers prior to starting treatments.
Although melasma is not harmful, it can be persistently bothersome and distressing to deal with. If you are noticing stubborn discoloration on your face this fall, schedule a thorough evaluation with one of our Clarus Dermatology Providers. We are happy to help you find a personalized treatment plan that works for you!
Terra Fodstad, PA-C