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.
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:
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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