The Truth Behind Melasma
Melasma is a common hyperpigmentation disorder. It predominantly affects women with Fitzpatrick phototypes III-VI, or those originating in equatorial regions with high sun and UV exposure. Female hormones due to pregnancy, birth control, or the menstrual cycle, as well as thyroid hormones have all been found to play roles in the development of melasma. While, a number of hormones can be involved in triggering melasma, these have not always been found as the culprit in developing the disease. Although hormones and sun exposure are much to blame, there are other causes, such as genetics, remaining to be understood, resulting in people getting melasma without the hormonal component and making it a chronic disorder.
As you may or may not know, the goal of skin color as produced by melanin is to maintain a balance such that our skin is light enough to allow UVB rays to penetrate and synthesize vitamin D, yet dark enough to protect our DNA from UV damage. In the case of melasma, it usually occurs in sun-exposed areas where UV rays have triggered or worsened pigmentation. In other words, infrared and even visible light, may be a triggering factor for those susceptible to melasma. Therefore, adequate sun protection is crucial in any guidelines followed to deal with this condition.
While there are many technologies and treatments that can be used to treat the condition, clients with melasma must be treated with care as to avoid inflammation (e.g., stress related). Care must be used when selecting chemical peels and topical skin lighteners. However, with all the treatment alternatives and possibilities, a person’s overall happiness can be increased with adequate skin care.