Melasma

Melasma Specialist
Many people have heard of the “mask of pregnancy.” The term refers to a skin condition that often affects pregnant women and patches of dark or discolored facial skin are its trademarks. Men and women turn to the team at Coastal Family Dermatology to find an effective treatment for melasma and restore the appearance of their skin. If you would like to learn more about melasma or other skin conditions, call the San Luis Obispo office or schedule an appointment online.

Melasma Q & A

Coastal Family Dermatology

What is melasma?

Melasma is a common skin condition that creates patches of gray-brown skin discoloration. Areas of discoloration usually appear on your face but can also occur in other areas of your body that sunlight regularly hits, such as your arms.

Melasma affects women far more commonly than men; only around 10% of cases occur amongst males. The condition is also more notable in pregnant women; researchers believe that the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can trigger melasma.

Melasma is harmless, doesn’t develop into skin cancer, and is painless. Many people with melasma seek treatment due to displeasure with the appearance of their skin and to improve their self-esteem.

What are the treatment options for melasma?

Your dermatologist evaluates your skin and determines the best treatment approach. If your melasma correlates with pregnancy or the use of certain birth control medications, you can try a different birth control method or wait to see if your skin returns to normal after giving birth.

Dermatological treatments for melasma include:

  • Hydroquinone, a topical medication that lightens your skin
  • Corticosteroids or tretinoin, which boost the power of skin-lightening products
  • Topical medications such as kojic acid or azelaic acid
  • Procedures such as chemical peels or dermabrasion
  • Laser treatments, including the Icon™ Aesthetic System

After treatment, how can I prevent melasma from returning?

The best line of defense against recurring melasma is aggressive sun protection. Take steps to minimize your exposure to the sun and wear a quality broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF every day.

Depending on the severity of your melasma, you may need to continue maintenance therapy by using topical prescription medications on a less frequent basis than called for in your initial treatment plan. Your doctor advises you on how to help prevent melasma from returning.

Adhering to your customized maintenance plan is the most crucial step that you can take to keep your skin clear and prevent future discoloration. If you experience changes in the appearance or texture of your skin after your initial treatment is complete, schedule a follow-up appointment to determine the cause.  

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