Melasma Treatment in London & UK

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Melasma is a common skin condition, which presents with dark brown patches on the face. It usually affects women as it has been related to the female hormone oestrogen, however one in ten cases present in men.

What Does Melasma Look Like?

Melasma first appears as a small brown coloured patch of skin. This is often confused with a mole but will gradually begin to grow and can cover a large area of your face. The patch of skin affected by melasma appears much darker than the surrounding area.

When it appears on the face melasma most commonly affects the forehead, nose, cheeks, upper lip and chin, and is usually symmetrical in its appearance. Although it is rarely seen in areas other than the face, melasma can occur on any area of skin exposed to sunlight including the neck, chest, arms, and legs.

How is Melasma Caused?

Melasma is believed to be caused by an increase in oestrogen levels. It is thought that this stimulates the production of melanin. Melanin is responsible for the pigment of the skin and the excess of it causes some areas to become darker than other areas of skin.

Another cause of melasma is over exposure to the sun. This promotes the production of melanin, which protects the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. In order to prevent this you should always wear sun protection cream when leaving the house.

There are also other factors in causing melasma such as genetics, nutritional deficiency, and a weakened immune system. Its link with oestrogen levels also means that it can be caused by medications such as the contraceptive pill or patch and hormone replacement medications. If your melasma is caused by contraceptives or artificial hormones you may be able to reverse the condition by stopping the medication. However, you should always seek medical advice before doing so.

It is also believed that other medications can cause melasma. If you believe this to be the case, you should talk to your prescribing doctor about your suspicions. A dysfunctional thyroid could also lead to melasma.

Although melasma is not contagious, it is believed to run in families. This means that if you know a close relative who suffers from melasma you may be more at risk of developing it yourself. If this is the case, you should take preventative measures to avoid an outbreak such as wearing a strong factor sun protection cream when you leave the house.

Who Gets Melasma?

Melasma is normally found in women during their fertile years. It usually affects people with naturally dark skin tones such as people with Hispanic or Middle Eastern origins. However, melasma can also be found in men and people with lighter skin tones. It can also be found in post- menopausal women who are taking hormone replacement medications.

One of the most common times for a woman to get melasma is during pregnancy. This is a time during which your body goes through many changes and your skin is no exception. Melasma, which develops during pregnancy, is usually, but not always, temporary.

Diagnosis of Melasma

Melasma is simple to diagnose and is usually done so after a quick physical examination. In some cases, further examination may be required to ensure that there is no other underlying condition. This may involve using a Wood’s lamp to investigate the skin or taking a biopsy. Whilst melasma itself is not dangerous, it is important to rule out any other conditions, which can present with skin discolouration.

Side Effects of Melasma

Melasma does not have any medical side effects. The only side effect of melasma is that it can be seen as disfiguring. Because of this, some people lose confidence in themselves and begin to suffer from low self- esteem. If this is the case, you should seek medical advice, as there are some treatments that can reduce the appearance of melasma.

Treatment for Melasma

The principle of melasma treatment is to reduce its appearance and where possible completely eradicate the discoloured cells. The most common form of treatment is bleaching creams. These can be prescribed by your doctor or brought over the counter and are applied to the area to reduce the amount of melanin in the skin.

There are also natural remedies and home treatments, which attempt to reduce the appearance of melasma. These are acidic substances, which aim to peel the top surface of the skin promoting the growth of new skin cells. Whilst some people find these effective, there is no scientific evidence to prove this.

Some lifestyle changes may be effective in treating melasma. For example improving your diet to ensure that it is not deficient in any essential required substances. Maintaining a balanced diet can dramatically improve you overall health and help to reduce the appearance of melasma as well as the chances of a further outbreak. You should also ensure that you always wear a high factor sun protection cream when leaving the house to prevent further skin damage and discolouration.

If bleaching creams and natural remedies are ineffective, or if they are not suitable for your condition, treatments that are more radical are available. These include chemical skin peels, which penetrate the layers of the skin affected by melasma causing them to peel and encouraging the growth of clear skin cells.

Laser treatments can also be used although they should be done so as a last resort basis as they can cause much more damage than they resolve. Laser treatments destroy the skin by burning it causing new, healthy skin to grow in the discoloured skin’s place.

Cryotherapy is another treatment option. It is popular because it is non- invasive and is relatively cheap. Cryotherapy involves freezing the melasma affected skin cells causing them to die so that healthy cells can grow in their place.

Microdermabrasion can also be used to treat melasma. This works by blasting the top layers of skin off the face using abrasive crystals. In doing this, microdermabrasion cleanses the skin and reduces the appearance of discolouration.

Concealing Melasma

If you want to reduce the appearance of your melasma but do not want to undergo harsh treatments you may wish to conceal it. This can be done using cover up makeup, which is specifically designed to cover skin discolouration. This works much better than normal makeup to hide blemishes and if applied correctly can produce excellent results without being noticeable.

What is Melasma? »