Summer is officially here and we are all looking forward to a long beach vacation but by October as your tan will be almost gone, a glance in the mirror may still show some darkened patches on your skin that seem to be sticking around. These brown or grayish-brown blotches, typically on the forehead, chin, cheeks, upper lip, or nose, may signal a condition called melasma.
Melasma is sometimes referred to as the mask of pregnancy, because it is sometimes triggered by an increase in hormones in pregnant women. But while the condition may be common among pregnant women, it isn't limited to them
Doctors do not fully understand why melasma occurs. It may be due to the malfunction of the melanocytes (the color-making cells) in the skin, causing them to produce too much color.
As a result, people with darker skin tones are more likely to develop melasma, as they have more melanocytes than people with lighter skin.
Potential triggers for melasma include:
Treatment is not always necessary for melasma.
If hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy or while taking birth control pills, have caused melasma, it will fade after delivery or once a person stops taking the pills.
For other people, melasma can last for years or even for the rest of their lives. If melasma does not fade over time, a person can seek treatment to help remove or fade the patches.
However, not all treatments work for everyone, and melasma may come back even after successful treatment.
Treatment options for melasma include:
1. Hidroquinone is a prescription cream that will help lighten the patches. Apply directly on the dark areas at night and protect your skin during the day.
2. Microdermabrassion, Chemical Peels and light therapy will reduce the pigment discoloration on the skin.
3. Avoiding the known triggers such as