Melasma and Pigmentation
What is Melasma?
Melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation that’s more commonly seen in women (especially in those with darker skin tones) and is thought to be triggered by UV exposure, as well as hormonal influences.
Melasma is difficult to treat. This is because, unlike traditional hyperpigmentation, which responds to a variety of over-the-counter products that contain brightening agents like vitamin C, kojic acid, niacinamide, hydroquinone, and azelaic acid, melasma hasn’t seen the same rate of success or consistency.
Fortunately, there are some very effective treatments that will help even the skin tone more rapidly. First and foremost, exposure to the ultraviolet light (sunlight and tanning booths) must be minimized. Sunscreens or sunblocks must be used. Depigmenting agents also known as “bleaching” creams are available over the counter as well as by prescription. The agent most commonly used is hydroquinone. This ingredient may also be combined with other agents such as tretinoin and glycolic acid to increase the efficacy of the medication. The skin may be sensitive to these medications and should be slowly and carefully introduced. The depigmenting effect is slow and will occur over several months.
Aside from or in addition to the depigmenting creams, a dermatologist may employ other techniques. Chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and even some lasers can be effective treatments.