Melasma Treatment

Melasma Treatment · Dermatologist NYCIf you’re pregnant, on birth control pills or undergoing any treatment that may spike your hormone levels, you may have noticed a gray or brownish skin discoloration on your face. If so, you may have a condition called melasma. Men can develop melasma too, but typically women between the ages of 20 and 80 develop it. It’s no coincidence that 90 percent of these women are either pregnant or on birth control pills.

While melasma isn’t a contagious or serious condition, it may not go away on its own. See your New York dermatologist to receive a thorough examination and treatment. You may not even have melasma. A variety of skin conditions are common, and some even have similar symptoms. Only a good dermatologist can diagnose what’s troubling you.

All symptoms, potential procedural/surgical options should always be discussed with your physician after a thorough consultation and examination  for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Melasma Causes

Melasma is believed to be associated with hormone spikes such as women who are pregnant, perimenopausal or using medicines that effect hormones, such as birth control medications or hormone replacement therapy. Your NYC dermatologist can tell you what may be causing the condition in your particular circumstance. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from excessive exposure to sunlight have been proven to aggravate melasma, as it darkens your skin’s pigmentation. Exposure to heat has been shown to exacerbate melasma as well.

The Four Types of Melasma

Melasma pigment discoloration is broken down into four groups:

  1. Dermal
  2. Epidermal
  3. Mixed
  4. An unnamed type that appears in people with darker skin

Dermal melasma contains melanophages — cells that consume melanin — throughout the deepe layers of the skin. Epidermal melasma is distinguished by excessive melanin in the more superficial layers of the skin. The third type of melasma is a combination of the dermal and epidermal types. The last type is an excess of melanocytes in people who have darker skin color.

Treatment for Melasma

The first thing your New York City dermatologist will tell you if you have melasma is to protect yourself from harmful sun rays. If you are pregnant or taking medicines that affect hormones, you may have to avoid the sun as much as possible. Exposure to the sun can exacerbate the condition, even if it wasn’t the primary cause.

Your melasma may clear up on its own without treatment. This may happen over the course of weeks or months. Sometimes, it clears with the use of sunscreen and from avoiding direct sunlight. Many women who use birth control pills find that their melasma clears up when they discontinue use. Women who are pregnant and have melasma report that it cleared up right after their pregnancy.

Your NYC dermatologist can recommend a variety of melasma treatment options. Most dermatologists will start with topical treatments, such as:

  • Hydroquinone: The most common treatment of melasma, hydroquinone (HQ) works by lightening the skin color. It’s an over-the-counter product, but if your condition is more severe, you can get a prescription-level version of hydroquinone.
  • Corticosteroids: Topical corticosteroid creams can help lighten melasma by decreasing pigment production in the skin.
  • Retinoids: Drugs like tretinoin promote lightening of the skin by microscopically sloughing off stained layers of skin.
  • Kojic, glycolic or azelaic acid: The creams that contain these ingredients also provide positive results in lightening the effect of melasma on your skin.

If you’ve tried all of these treatments and none have been effective at diminishing your melasma, then your top dermatologist in NYC may recommend:

  • Microdermabrasion: This technique involves an instrument that exfoliates your face, removing the top layer of stained skin cells.
  • Laser or Intense pulsed light: Certain wavelengths of laser and IPL can specifically target pigment in the skin and break it up allowing for the body to get rid of it.
  • Chemical peel: A chemical peel uses an acid solution that causes the stained top layers of skin to separate from your face and allows for easy peeling to reveal the fresh layers beneath.

 

 

Side Effects of Melasma Treatment

Talk to your NY dermatologist about all the possible side effects with any skin issue. Melasma treatments may produce skin irritation as a side effect. This irritation is temporary, so you should continue using the HQ cream unless the irritation is severe.

If you’ve been prescribed a stronger HQ cream, a possible side effect that may occur over several months to years of continuous use is a condition called exogenous ochronosis, which is a darkening of the skin. This is why we recommend taking a break for a month after every 3 months of HQ use. Ochronosis is rare in the United States, but is more common in African countries where HQ concentrations of ten to 20 percent are used to treat melasma. In spite of these long-term side effects, HQ creams are still the most effective treatment and the most widely marketed worldwide. If you develop darkening of the skin, immediately stop using the HQ cream.

 

All symptoms, potential procedural/surgical options should always be discussed with your physician after a thorough consultation and examination  for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult dermatologist NYC about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified dermatology doctor or pediatric dermatologist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

Do you have any questions about Melasma Treatment? Would like to schedule an appointment with an internationally recognized, best rated New York City dermatologist, Dr. Susan Bard of Manhattan Dermatology Specialists, please contact our Midtown NYC office for consultation with cosmetic and laser dermatologist.

Manhattan Dermatology Specialists
Dr. Susan Bard, Dermatologist NYC
Midtown Dermatology
51 East 25th Street, Ste 411
New York, NY 10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
(212) 889-2402
Manhattan Dermatology Specialists
Dr. Susan Bard, Dermatologist NYC
Upper East Side Dermatology
983 Park Ave, Ste 1D1
New York, NY 10028
(Between 83th & 84th Street)
(212) 427-8750
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a best in class dermatologist regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.