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Melasma is not your usual hyperpigmentation. Most people know it as the “mask of pregnancy” because the condition is common in pregnant women. However, you can get melasma at any age, pregnant or not. While hyperpigmentation is the general increase in melanin triggered by sun exposure, injury, age, or inflammation, melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation that is influenced by hormonal changes. Read on to find out how to address this skin concern.

Signs of Melasma

Melasma often occurs in the face, although it can happen on the forearms or neck. It typically develops develop in areas that receive repeated sun exposure. The American Academy of Dermatology states that the most common visual signs of melasma are brown or gray patches on the skin. It doesn’t itch, sting, or cause any physical symptoms. Melasma affects more women than men. People with darker or morena skin are also more prone to getting melasma. 

Causes of Melasma

Melasma is a condition that manifests as brown or gray patches on the face. 

The causes of melasma are not entirely clear, according to the AAD. However, experts believe that it occurs when melanocytes, the color-producing cells in the skin, produce too much pigment. People with darker skin are more prone to melasma because their melanocytes are more active. A common trigger is sun exposure, which stimulates melanocytes. Even a short amount of sun can make existing melasma worse or faded melasma return. 

A change in hormones can also trigger melasma to manifest on the skin. When it appears in pregnant women who are undergoing hormonal changes, it’s called chloasma. Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can also trigger melasma. Apart from these, topical skincare products that irritate the skin can also worsen or prolong the condition.

Common Treatments for Melasma

Microdermabrasion is a common treatment for melasma.

According to the AAD, melasma can look like other skin conditions, so it’s best to visit your dermatologist if you notice a dark patch on your skin. Usually, melasma fades on its own, especially when you remove the trigger, like birth control pills or an irritating product, from the equation. However, it can also be a long-term condition. If melasma persists, there are different treatments you can try.

Use topical remedies.

Dermatologists can recommend different skin lightening agents to eliminate the signs of melasma. Hydroquinone, tretinoin, corticosteroids, and acids like kojic and azelaic can help with lightening dark patches. However, note that these agents may make your skin sensitive to the sun. Slather on a generous amount of sunscreen to avoid worsening your condition.

Try an in-office treatment.

Your dermatologist might recommend a procedure to eliminate your dark patches. Chemical peels, microdermabrasion, laser treatments, or light-based therapy are among the possible options. Do these treatments with a professional who understands your skin’s condition and your skin type. Negative skin reactions are always possible, so proceed with caution.

Use brightening products at home.

Aid professional treatments with an at-home regimen that brightens skin, but also makes it healthier. Apply Vaseline Healthy Bright SPF 24 PA++ Sun + Pollution Protection Brightening Defense Lotion all over, especially on exposed areas like the forearms and neck. This product protects against UVA and UVB rays as well as environmental pollutants that can damage the skin. It contains Vaseline Jelly that deeply moisturizes the skin. Plus, it brightens skin with niacinamide, which also helps strengthen the skin barrier.

For the face, use POND’S Bright Sunscreen SPF 50 PA+++ with Niacinamide for Brighter Protected Skin. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 50, this product protects skin against sun damage, dark spots, and dullness. It’s also enriched with Gluta-boost Technology, which has 10 times the brightening power of Vitamin C for bright, even-toned skin.

If you see dark patches on your face, don’t panic. Once you identify and eliminate your triggers and use the right products, melasma is a manageable condition. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen!