What causes it?
If you’re noticing light to dark brown or gray patches on your skin, you may have Melasma. Melasma is a common skin disorder that affects 1 in 4 women globally and 1 in 20 men. It is typically seen on people with a natural brown skin tone but has affected those with lighter, fair skin and darker, black skin. In simple terms, the condition is a form of hyperpigmentation that causes the skin to produce more melanin (the formulation of pigment – skin color) in certain areas of your body, primarily the face. For most people, these patches become embarrassingly noticeable and can lead to lowered self-esteem.
Although Melasma is not life-threatening, it must be cared for to avoid more serious diseases like Melanoma. The causes of Melasma remain obscure but it has been linked to genetics. An increased amount of patients have disclosed that other relatives have suffered from Melasma in the past. Heredity is a big factor but there are other elements that increase your risk of developing Melasma.
Sun exposure is one of the leading causes of Melasma. Your skin is affected in two ways when you don’t protect yourself against the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. One, the direct sunlight can trigger Melasma blotches to appear darker. Two, the heat given from the sun aggravates the sensitivity of your skin if you’re already genetically predisposed to the skin disorder, which is something you can also experience indoors in places like a factories or the kitchen while you are cooking.
During pregnancy or while taking oral contraceptives, women experience hormonal changes. These hormonal changes are usually due to an increased amount of certain hormones that accelerate the production of normal melanin and reinforce the symptoms of Melasma. The symptoms are usually temporary and the dark patches tend to go away after giving birth or ceasing to take oral contraceptives.
The Use of Cosmetics
Certain skin care products contain ingredients that agitate the sensitivity of your skin, primarily scented cleansers and lotions. Other products like soaps that give your skin a small stinging sensation or make-up brands that offer alcohol based products also irritate skin that is prone to Melasma.