Melasma is a skin disorder which commonly occurs after sun exposure, pregnancy and in those who use the birth control pill. It is generally a temporary skin disorder and very rarely is it permanent. There is no cure for this transient skin disorder. Yet many people are seeking treatment for this completely benign skin disorder.
For those who feel their melasma is not aesthetic and want to erase it, there are several ways to do. These include:
Sunscreens: Because melasma is most likely related to sun exposure, one should always sun screens when going outdoors. There are many sunscreens available and select the one with the highest SPF (>30).
Clothing: To prevent the intense sun exposure, wear protective clothing on the face and hands.
Sun lotions: There are lotions containing Zinc which has been recommended to prevent the skin darkening. Zinc is normally added to most sun screens.
Creams: There are 100s of camouflage creams available to hide the melasma. Skin creams in general have been known to cause more irritation of the skin than to diminish the color. They are also expensive and only work a short time.
Bleaching: There are a variety of skin bleaching agents to treat melasma. These chemicals may fade the skin color but many times do not work. Only the mildest form of the skin discoloration is affected by the bleaching agents and the improvement is not immediate. Hydroquinone is the most commonly used bleaching agent. Some bleaching creams are combined with a sunscreen. The results after bleaching can take months and many times make no difference on the skin except in your money.
Steroids: There are numerous topical lotions and steroid ointments which have also been recommended to treat melasma. Topical steroids of only weak strength should be used. In general steroids should not be applied for a benign skin disorder, as they cause more harm than good.
Chemical peels: Numerous over the counter acids are available as peeling agents. These acids include glycolic acid, Azelaic and kojic acid. They usually do not do much for melasma and in fact cause more skin irritation, itching and worsen the cosmesis.
Isotretinoin: Topical vitamin A derivatives have also been recommended in the treatment of melasma. These products are effective in the treatment of acne but do not do much for melasma. In fact, they can hypersensitize the skin to sun. Retinoids are best avoided for a harmless skin disorder like Melasma.
Others: Both laser and microdermabrasion have also been used to treat melasma. These treatments only partially fade the color but they are very expensive and have their own side effects. The results after these treatments are variable and not consistent.
Melasma is a benign skin disorder and in the majority of cases it resolves. Almost all treatments for this skin condition take a long time and the results are not guaranteed.
There are many non health care professionals who are involved in the management of this disorder. Harmful and expensive chemicals are routinely used on the skin with terrible results.
If you do seek treatment for melasma, be patient and give the condition time to see if it resolves on its own. If you do select treatment, go to a bona fide board certified dermatologist. You may not only save your money but all the aggravation that comes with bogus treatments.