Melasma Treatment: How to Fade Hyperpigmentation

Melasma Treatment: How to Fade Hyperpigmentation

Brown patches of skin that can appear on the face are known as Melasma. While the exact cause is unknown, it is more prevalent in women than men. There are many common triggers, such as the use of birth control pills, pregnancy, and certain medications that have been known to increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Certain topical treatments are helpful in fading these types of spots. In some cases, a patient may have to experiment with various treatments before they find the one that works for them and is the most effective in treatment.

Treatment Time Frame

When topical treatments are used, it will require an exercise in extreme patience. For improvement to be noticeable, it may take several months of consistently using a topical Melasma treatment as directed. If a patient is working with a dermatologist, it is very important to make sure the directions for treatment are strictly followed in order for the maximum benefits to be received. This way results can appear much sooner instead of later.

The Importance of Sunscreen

When it comes to the treatment of Melasma, it is very important for the skin to be protected from the sun. Even if you are using topical medications or any other regimens the use of sunscreen is crucial to the success of the treatment. Exposure to the sun will weaken the effects of creams made for fading. Your skin’s sensitivity to the sun is increased by the different ingredients used in Melasma treatments, as well. Melasma can worsen if inadequate protection from the sun is an issue. Sunscreens that contain titanium dioxides and zinc with an SPF of 30 are recommended to offer full protection from the damaging rays of the sun.

Commonly Used, But Harmful Ingredients

One of the most common treatments for Melasma is the use of a bleaching agent known as hydroquinone. There are non-prescription versions available that contain approximately two percent, but prescriptions offer concentrations that are as high as four percent. However, this type of treatment doesn’t come without risk. Patients using hydroquinone can experience darkening of spots and a bluish hue developing on the skin. Hydroquinone can also lead to a condition called ochronosis, even when it is bought over-the-counter. This is permanent hyperpigmentation with sooty darkening of the skin. Ochronosis may also cause loss of skin elasticity and impaired wound healing. Other side effects include contact dermatitis (rash, redness, itching and flaking) and nail discoloration.

Kojic acid is a very popular ingredient in products of Asian skin lightening. Like hydroquinone, kojic acid is effective in lightening dark scars, brown spots and even Melasma. Unfortunately, some studies suggest that skin exposed to kojic acid on a regular basis becomes more sensitive. Skin sensitization is bad because it can lead to allergic contact dermatitis.

Treatments that are known to be the most effective will combine agents for skin lightening and exfoliating agents such as vitamin A and glycolic acid. Prescriptions creams that contain topical steroids, as well as other ingredients have been able to produce dramatic results. These agents are known as kojic acid, salicylic acid, extract of licorice, vitamin C, lactic acid, and azeleic acid.

Safe and Effective Ingredients 

One of the most effective, and safe, ingredients to use to fade Melasma are products that contain a stable form of Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid.) How do you know if it is stable? If your Vitamin C turns brown, then it has essentially oxidized and thus no longer effective. To disguise this oxidation, many Vitamin C skin care products are colored brown or dark yellow to begin with. Vitamin C in its stablest form is a powerful anti-oxidant that will help prevent further skin damage, while safely lightening dark spots like Melasma.

As with any skin treatment, in order for the desired results to be achieved, the application of Melasma-fading products have to be used on a regular schedule for a length of time. Have patience, be consistent and you will see results!

Do you have Melasma?

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  1. The information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please speak to your doctor to treat any medical condition. Information on this site is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
  2. Michelle says:

    Great article. My favorite melasma cream is skinbright, so I wasn’t surprised it contains kojic acid as one of the main ingredients.

    • Hi Michelle, unfortunately some studies suggest that skin exposed to kojic acid on a regular basis becomes more sensitive. Skin sensitization is bad because it can lead to allergic contact dermatitis. It’s definitely an ingredient to stay away from!

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