With summer rapidly approaching, it is important that residents of the Lowcountry protect themselves against skin conditions. While many people are aware of conditions such as melanoma, not many are aware of the more common condition known as melasma.
Melasma is a common skin problem that causes brown to gray-brown patches on the face. It is common for most people to get it on their cheeks, the bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, or above their upper lip. In rare instances, it can appear on other parts of the body that gets lots of sun, such as the forearms and neck. Statistics show that women are much more likely to get melasma than men. In fact, it is so common during pregnancy that it is sometimes referred to as the “mask of pregnancy”.
Studies have also shown that people with darker skin, such as those of Latin/Hispanic, North African, African-American, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean descent are more likely to get melasma. It is not life threatening, however many people dislike the way melasma makes their skin look.
Common melasma triggers include:
Sun Exposure: Ultraviolent (UV) light from the sun can stimulate the melanocytes. In fact, just a small amount of sun exposure can make melasma return after fading, which is why melasma is often worse in the summer. It is also why many people with melasma get it multiple times.
A change in hormones: Pregnant women often get melasma. When it appears in pregnant women, it is called or chloasma or the “mask of the pregnancy”. Birth control pills and hormone replacement medicine can also trigger melasma.
Cosmetics: Skin care products that irritate the skin may worsen melasma.
If the melasma doesn’t fade, there are many treatment options available that we can offer. These include hydroquinone, topical medicines and laser procedures.
Here’s some easy ways to manage melasma
* Wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat
* Use your medicine as directed
* See Dr. Germain and her staff regularly.