Newly-appearing tan or brown patches across your face may be melasma, an overproduction of pigment in response to triggers like light or hormones. In Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, Michael Osofsky, MD, Brian Pucevich, MD, Saba Ali, MD, and the team at Dermatology Associates of Western Pennsylvania provide individualized care for the diagnosis and treatment of melasma. Schedule your appointment over the phone or request a melasma appointment today.
Melasma is a specific type of skin discoloration that mostly appears on your face but can also show up on your forearms and other areas. The spots and blotches tend to be tan, brown, or gray and are usually a bit darker than the rest of your skin.
Although melasma is very visible, it’s harmless and doesn’t indicate any underlying health issues you need to treat. It’s up to you whether or not you want to pursue cosmetic treatment for your melasma; the patches tend to clear up eventually on their own, but the time that takes varies.
Melasma appears because of changes happening within your skin. Melanocytes, the cells that produce skin pigments, produce additional melanin in response to hormone changes, heat, or light. This is what ultimately causes melasma.
Many people know melasma by its nickname, “the mask of pregnancy.” It has this name because pregnant women experience melasma at particularly high rates. The fluctuating hormones of pregnancy contribute to discoloration. Hormonal contraceptives like birth control pills cause similar hormone fluctuations and can also contribute to melasma.
Other risk factors for melasma include:
People with darker skin are more likely to get melasma than those with fair skin. Similarly, you’re more likely to get melasma if you tan easily in the sun rather than burn.
The team at Dermatology Associates of Western Pennsylvania evaluates your skin to diagnose melasma before customizing your treatment. Melasma can be tricky to treat, but the team works with you to find an effective method. They may recommend:
Altering your lifestyle to avoid certain substances and actions that can worsen your melasma is often an important part of melasma management. For example, the team might suggest changing your skin care routine and avoiding tanning beds and irritating procedures like waxing. All melasma patients should wear SPF protection in the form of sunscreen, clothing, and seek shade on sunny days.
Certain medications, both topical and oral, can lighten your melasma spots.
A chemical peel is a cosmetic skin procedure that removes the dead and damaged cells and promotes cell turnover. They help even out your skin’s tone and can make melasma less prominent.
Just as certain types of light can cause or worsen melasma, other types can help lighten the spots. Melasma responds to intense pulsed light (IPL) and certain laser treatments.
Find out more about melasma treatments by scheduling an appointment over the phone or online at Dermatology Associates of Western Pennsylvania today.