Melasma, also known as chloasma, occurs when irregular patches of dark skin appear on the face or forearms. These tan or brown patches normally occur symmetrically around the forehead, nose, cheeks, or upper lip. The symmetry of melasma distinguishes it from other conditions that cause darkening of the skin. Melasma is a common condition and is found more often in women. It can be caused by sun damage or by hormonal changes, such as pregnancy and menopause. Individuals with darker skin types are more inclined to melasma than those with lighter complexions. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Eric Wilkerson treats melasma regularly at Fort Lauderdale Dermatology in Fort Lauderdale, FL where we offer several treatments that can lessen the visibility of this cosmetic condition.
The specific cause of melasma remains unknown. Experts think that the dark patches in melasma might be triggered by various factors, including hormone fluctuations, family history of melasma, race, anti-seizure medications, and other medications that make the skin more susceptible to pigmentation after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Uncontrolled sunlight exposure is recognized as the primary cause of melasma, especially in those with a genetic predisposition to this condition. Clinical studies have demonstrated that individuals generally develop melasma in the summer months when the sun is most intense. In the winter, the hyperpigmentation tends to be less visible or lighter.
Melasma is characterized by the discoloration or hyperpigmentation mainly on the face. Three kinds of common facial patterns are identified in individuals with melasma:
- Centrofacial – (center of the face) hyperpigmentation around the nose, chin, forehead, cheeks, and upper lip
- Malar – (cheekbones) melasma patterns around the upper cheeks
- Mandibular – (jawbone) hyperpigmentation along the jaw
There are numerous possibilities for treating melasma. First, there are a variety of topical creams, gels, or lotions that may be recommended to help expedite skin lightening. Second, there are dermatology procedures, such as the dermapen, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, or fractional lasers. Another solution is intense pulsed light therapy or IPL. Unlike lasers that use intense, focused light, IPL is intense broadband light so the recovery time is brief. Improvements generally last when the patient implements good sun protection and maintenance.
Get a Professional Diagnosis
If you suffer from melasma and are tired of trying to cover it with makeup, or if you spend money on over-the-counter treatments that do not offer you the results you desire, we welcome you to call Fort Lauderdale Dermatology to schedule a consultation with skilled dermatologist Dr. Eric Wilkerson. Melasma requires a special diagnosis so the ideal treatment can be given. If the wrong treatment is applied, the skin might become darker. Dr. Wilkerson can accurately diagnose and treat melasma to provide you with a wonderful result.