What is Melasma? Could you have it?

What is Melasma? Could you have it?

More than 5 million Americans develop melasma – are you one of them? Melasma sounds like a potentially life-threatening worrisome health issue. It’s not. However, you may very well be one of the 5 million with it.

So just what is Melasma? This is the clinical term for brown spots or age spots. It’s a skin condition in which patches of the skin darken. It’s a common problem, especially among those who spend a significant amount of time outdoors and don’t use protection – this also goes for those of you into winter sports.

So how do eliminate the discoloration, or better yet, prevent it from occurring?

The Melasma Effect

In essence, melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation. The dark spots that appear are actually among the most common types of hyperpigmentation, and as I noted are often triggered by the sun as well as the skin’s natural aging process.

Assaulting elements such as UV rays, medications, trauma, and the list goes on, can trigger melanin (the skin’s pigment) to kick into overdrive, producing more melanin than necessary. The result of this is the brown spots you see. As we age, our natural defenses begin to weaken allowing damage to occur more easily.

Common culprits include:

  • Sun exposure
  • Acne trauma and inflammation
  • Medications and chemicals
  • Shaving/Ingrown hairs
  • Colognes or perfumed after shaves on neck and face
  • Large melanocyte cells (melanin-producing cells) – typically those with darker skin tones have larger melanocyte cells and may be more susceptible to melasma
  • Genetics – yes, your folks can pass this wonderful trait along

Of all of the above noted, the primary instigator of discoloration remains UV exposure, and in all instances of discoloration, sun exposure inevitably makes the case worse.

Treating Melasma

Though melasma is highly undesirable, the good news is, it is managable. The single most important thing you can do today – right NOW is start applying sunprotection. Invest in a good physical block to keep skin protected from environmental damage.

To clear up spotting, seek out some corrective skin care products containing ingredients like retinoids, kombuchka (black tea), and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP) to help reduce the discoloration.

Skin care professionals will also prove a great resource. They will be able to speed up the process with more active, corrective ingredients like TCA, L-lactic acid, kojic acid, phytic and pyruvic acids, and melanin suppressants, to name a few. These PRO treatments will take charge and begin to breakdown the damaged patches of skin.

To recap – wear protection, get active (with your ingredients), and seek out the help of a professional. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on the road to a spot-free complexion in no time.

For more information about sun protection, see the EnviroProtect. For treating discoloration, see the Radical Redux.