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There are a number of skin conditions that can manifest visibly and affect the appearance of your skin. Many of them are exacerbated by excessive exposure to the sun. Among them, melasma is one of the most common. Despite its prevalence, there seems to be a general lack of awareness regarding melasma.

What Is Melasma?

Melasma presents as hyperpigmented areas on the surface of the skin. These areas appear darker than a person's normal skin tone and are usually symmetric. While the skin condition is universal, it is most prevalent among women, commonly appear on the face (chin, cheeks, forehead, etc.). While there are no known health impacts associated with melasma, the condition can have an emotional impact on those afflicted with it.

Possible Causes Of Melasma

Though the definite causes of melasma remain uncertain, studies have suggested that the condition is linked to hormones. The cells that produce melanin (called melanocytes) may be stimulated by estrogen and progesterone. Additionally, exposure to the sun leads to increased melanin production.  When melanocytes produce excessive amounts of melanin, melasma can occur. Sun exposure is also thought to generate free radicals which can stimulate melanocytes, resulting in excessive melanin production.

Many doctors believe that melasma is most prevalent in those who have a predisposition. This can include skin tone, gender and ethnicity. Women are more likely than men to develop the condition. And those with a light brown skin tone are generally more susceptible than others.

How Is Melasma Treated?

Melasma can be treated by applying a number of topical agents including kojic acid, botanical lighteners and hydroquinone. While hydroquinone can come with side effects if used at very high concentrations over long periods of time, it is regarded as the gold standard in conditions such as melasma. If used as directed, hydroquinone is safe and effective. Hydroquinone works by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase from producing melanin.

Topical exfoliants such as alpha hydroxy acids and Vitamin A derivatives can help to increase the penetration of hydroquinone as well as remove hyperpigmented skin. And, other ingredients such as Vitamin C (a skin lightener) can also play a role in helping to resolve melasma.

Caring For Your Skin

It's important to remember that melasma carries no serious health impacts. Treatments are available and while effective, the treatment of melamsa may take months. Melasma responds best to a range of products that work in complementary ways. These may include:
[Link Removed] or Neostrata Skin Brightener.  

It may be best to work with a qualified health care professional to benefit most from any treatment regimen.

Lastly, since exposure to the sun has an impact on melasma, it is important to always use a well formulated broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 such as [Link Removed] every day year round.  

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti aging skin care. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed] 


Pharmagirl, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.



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