How Can I Reduce Melasma On My Face?
There are treatments that can bring the solution to the matter but knowing the cause is better. “To prevent is easier than to cure”.
Understanding skin biology and Melasma
There are two main layers of skin which are the epidermis (surface) and dermis (deeper). The deepest layer of the is called basal cell layer. It continuously dividing to produce hydrated new skin cells (millions daily). The top layer of epidermis is called stratum corneum or “horny layer”. This is the part of layer that we can see from the outside through our naked eyes. These cells are dead, contain a lot of keratin, being arranged in overlapping layers that gives out a tough waterproof character to the skin’s surface. Dead skin cells are shed daily as the new cells are formed to make it balance. As we are exposed to sunlight, the darker the colour of our skin. The dermis (deeper) contains amount of fat and collagen to bring elasticity and strength to the skin. An individual with darker skin complexion are prone to have melasma on the area of their face. The effect is brown patches or gray patches to appear. This is how the biology of the skin related to melasma.
What causes Melasma on face?
There are several factors that cause melasma to the skin. Stress, iron deficiency, and hormonal imbalance are a few of the factors that relate to the development of melasma.
Stress brings the over-production of melanocyte to the top. As the over-production occurs, brown patches are slowly forming to the surface of the skin area.
Iron deficiency may be brings the effect on skin, although the correlation is still remain unclear.
The imbalance in the current hormone can potentially triggers the over-production of melanocytes. The phenomena will cause the melasma to happen. The right balance of hormone is the key to get that clear, dewy skin.
How can facial melasma be treated?
There are two ways for melasma to be treated; removal of the discoloured skin or regulation of the pigment.
Removal process can be done through laser therapy, intense pulse light or chemical peel. Knowing the right treatment will be able to get rid of the melasma, even though there are chances for the melasma to come back again. The cost is higher and the potential side effect such as inflammation, irritation and burning sensation can appear after the treatment.
Laser therapies (Fraxel, Erbium YAG) and Intense Pulse Light (IPL)
The use of laser therapy and intense pulse light are clinically proved to be effective than chemical peels in term of treating melasma. It is more precise in deleting the hyperpigmented skin cells at the surface level and deeper, but it really depends on the severity of the symptom.
The most common substance that are being put to good use is Glycolic acid (AHA). The process starts when the dermatologist applying the solution to the affected skin of the patient. After a moment,the surface of skin naturally becoming blister. Then, the peeling off process occurred as the unblemished skin underneath appears.
Another method for treating melasma on the skin is to use the right skin-care product (cream, gel and lotion) that has all or most ingredient that works well in treating the skin condition such as Hydroquinone, Arbutin, Glyclocid acid, Kojic acid, vitamin C derivatives, Retinoic acid and B-Resorcinal.
Hydroquinone is one of the most important key ingredient in dealing with melasma. It is effective in lightening up the colour of skin patches (brightening agent). It can be applied through the use of form, lotion or liquid.
Arbutin is a natural source ingredient from hydroquinone. It also helps in removing or fades the brown patches into paler colour (close to natural). It does not have strong dose or as effective like hydruquinone but it reduces the chance of major side effect to the affected skin.
Glycolic Acid (or hydroxyacetic acid)
Glycolic acid is known to be the main substance for chemical peel treatment and the main ingredient in many hyperpigmentation topical cream that can easily be accessed at nearest pharmacy or drugstore.
Kojic acid is banned many countries and has the debatable ability in restraining the production of melanin to avoid the development of melasma. This is due to the risk of cancer that can be obtained as the ingredient is used in product or direct touch. The ideal idea of kojic acid is that it can block tyrosine from forming to bring a brighter effect to the skin.
Vitamin C derivatives
Vitamin C is one of the major ingredient needed to treat melasma alongside with other vital ingredients. The fading of brown patches can be seen gradually over time and create more natural and even-toned skin complexion.
Retinoic acid is not one of the best substance to treat melasma because it can potentially trigger a serious side effect to the skin. Irritation and skin sensitivity towards sunlight is one of the few side effect. Pregnant or breastfeeding woman are advisable to avoid it.
B-Resorcinol has an immediate result in brightening dark spot in just a matter of four week. It also has little no possibility for skin irritation to occur as well.
Broad-spectrum sunscreen with high SPF can be applied in daily skin routine in order to fight the melasma. It does take more time for the result to show the sign of effectiveness.
Conclusion/ Final Thoughts
In conclusion, there are ways to reduce the melasma and to get it treated accordingly whether through professional treatment or an effective usage of skincare. The problem of brown patches appearing is no longer be an issue.