What is Melasma
Melasma presents with brown patches on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead and upper lip. This condition is most common in women of color and occurs more frequently in those with a family history of the condition, pregnant women, or women taking birth control. Genetics can also be a reason that brown spots appear. Some brown skin spots can be skin cancer. If you have a brown spot that suddenly appeared and is changing in shape and size, please contact us immediately to have it looked at by one of our medical experts.
What causes of Melasma
The main reason that brown skin spots appear on the skin is over-exposure to sunlight and harmful UV rays. This can be from spending extended time outside without sunscreen or utilizing tanning beds, which administer intensive UV light rays. The more sun exposure we get, the more rapidly our body produces melanin, as a way of protecting the skin. Long after many summer tans have come and gone, certain areas of the skin will retain a darker color where melanin is overactive, resulting in brown spots. Hormones also play a part in the appearance of brown spots because they signal the body to produce extra melanin.
These three major factors are known to bring out or worsen melasma:
- Hormonal changes associated with pregnancy or birth control pills,
- Ultraviolet light from the sun or even from strong light bulbs and
- Skin irritation of any kind.
How to treat and prevent Melasma
If you have melasma, the most important part of treatment is a daily sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB with an SPF of 30 or higher. Irritating skin products should be stopped and alternatives to birth control pills should be considered. The mainstay of topical treatment is with bleaching creams that contain hydroquinone or with compound products that also include a mild corticosteroid and a retinoid. In some patients, chemical peels and topical creams may be recommended to accelerate improvement. It is important to remember that even minimal exposure to ultraviolet light can cause melasma to recur.
Prescription medication may be recommended as treatment based on your needs and melasma symptoms. The common medications we recommend are hydroquinone to lighten dark patches, tretinoin to exfoliate and enhance skin lightening or corticosteroid cream to reduce irritation.
Topical creams may help to reduce brown skin spots and melasma. Affiliated Dermatology carries many effective skin lightening creams for the reduction of the appearance of brown spots.
Chemical peels are an effective way to eliminate skin discoloration and restore a more even appearance of your skin. We offer many different treatments such as light, medium, or heavy depth chemical peels for various skin types. Our chemical peel treatments have also been known to cut down on precancerous lesions that may lead to the development of skin cancer.
Request an Appointment
For more information or to schedule an appointment at one of our several dermatology offices in Arizona, please contact us by calling (480) 556-0446 or leaving us a message with the contact form below.