Hyperpigmentation / Melasma Awareness Month - All You Need to Know

July is Melasma Awareness Month, a time dedicated to educating the public about melasma, its causes, treatments, and prevention. At our aesthetic medicine clinic in the heart of London, we recognise the importance of spreading awareness about this common yet often misunderstood skin condition.

Melasma affects millions worldwide, predominantly women, and can have a significant impact on one’s self-esteem and quality of life. As we delve into the intricacies of melasma, we hope to empower you with knowledge and introduce you to the latest treatments available at our clinic. Our goal is to help you understand this condition better and explore the various options for managing and treating it effectively.

What is Melasma and Why Does it Occur?

Melasma is a chronic skin condition characterised by symmetrical, brown or greyish-brown patches typically appearing on the face. These patches most commonly occur on the cheeks, forehead, upper lip, and chin, creating a mask-like pattern. The condition can be particularly distressing for those affected, as it often appears in highly visible areas of the face.

The exact cause of melasma remains elusive, but several factors contribute to its development. Hormonal changes play a significant role, which is why melasma is sometimes referred to as the “mask of pregnancy.” Pregnancy, hormonal contraceptives, and hormone replacement therapy can all trigger melasma. This hormonal link also explains why the condition is more common in women than men.

Sun exposure is another crucial factor in the development and exacerbation of melasma. UV rays stimulate melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells in our skin, leading to increased melanin production and darker patches. This is why melasma often worsens during the summer months or after sun exposure.

Genetics also play a role in melasma susceptibility. If you have a family history of melasma, you’re more likely to develop the condition yourself. Additionally, individuals with darker skin tones, particularly those of Asian, Latin, or African descent, are more prone to melasma. This is due to their naturally more active melanocytes.

Certain medications and cosmetics can also trigger or worsen melasma. It’s important to review your skincare routine and any medications you’re taking with a dermatologist if you’re concerned about melasma.

How does melasma differ from hyperpigmentation?

While melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation, it is distinct in several ways:

Causes

General hyperpigmentation can be caused by a variety of factors including acne, inflammation, or injury to the skin, whereas melasma is more specifically related to sun exposure, hormonal changes, and genetic factors.

Appearance

Melasma typically appears as larger, more defined patches, while other forms of hyperpigmentation may present as smaller, isolated spots.

Location

Melasma is most commonly found on the face, while hyperpigmentation can occur anywhere on the body.

What are the available treatments for melasma?

At Aestha  clinic, we offer a range of advanced treatments for melasma, tailored to each patient’s unique needs and skin type. Our approach often involves a combination of treatments for optimal results.

Fotona Laser

The Fotona laser system represents a breakthrough in melasma treatment. This non-invasive procedure uses a combination of two wavelengths to address melasma comprehensively. The Nd:YAG wavelength targets deeper pigmentation, while the Er:YAG wavelength addresses superficial pigmentation and promotes skin rejuvenation. This dual approach allows for treatment of melasma at various skin depths, offering impressive results with minimal downtime. Patients often report a more even skin tone and improved texture after a series of Fotona treatments.

Nd:YAG Laser

The Nd:YAG laser is particularly effective for treating melasma in patients with darker skin tones. It works by targeting melanin in the deeper layers of the skin, breaking down pigment clusters, and stimulating collagen production for overall skin improvement. The Nd:YAG laser’s longer wavelength allows it to penetrate deeper into the skin while minimizing the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, a concern for darker skin types. Multiple sessions are typically required for optimal results, but many patients report significant improvement in their melasma after Nd:YAG treatments.

Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone remains a gold standard in topical treatments for melasma. This prescription-strength cream works by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme crucial for melanin production, gradually lightening dark patches over time. While effective, hydroquinone should be used under professional supervision due to potential side effects with prolonged use. We typically recommend cyclic use of hydroquinone, alternating with other skin-lightening agents to minimize the risk of adverse effects while maintaining results.

Microneedling RF Therapy

Microneedling RF (radiofrequency) therapy is an emerging treatment that combines the benefits of microneedling with the rejuvenating effects of RF energy. This technique involves using fine needles to create micro-injuries in the skin, which are then treated with RF energy to promote collagen production and skin tightening.

“The continuous microneedling RF therapy is beneficial in maintaining the conventional therapy of melasma suggesting the protective effect of dermal targeting therapy in melasma development.”

Han, H.J., Kim, J.C., Park, Y.J. et al. Targeting the dermis for melasma maintenance treatment. Sci Rep 14, 949 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-51133-w

This innovative approach helps in reducing pigmentation and maintaining the results of other conventional therapies.

Chemical Peel

Chemical peels can be an effective adjunct therapy for melasma. We offer various types of peels, including glycolic acid, mandelic acid, and trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels. These treatments work by removing the top layer of skin, promoting cell turnover, and gradually reducing the appearance of melasma. The strength and type of peel are customised based on individual skin type and melasma severity. Chemical peels can also improve overall skin texture and tone, providing additional benefits beyond melasma treatment.

It’s important to note that melasma treatment often requires a combination approach and ongoing maintenance. Our experienced dermatologists will create a personalised treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and skin type, adjusting as necessary based on your response to treatment.

Meso-Xanthin F199

Meso-Xanthin F199 harnesses the powerful F199 Carotenoid to stimulate skin regeneration, address signs of aging, and enhance skin vitality. This sophisticated formula merges epigenetic science with natural ingredients to foster a healthier, more youthful complexion and improve cellular regeneration. By leveraging these advanced technologies, Meso-Xanthin F199 not only revitalises the skin but also ensures long-term benefits for a radiant and rejuvenated appearance. When used in conjunction with Meso-Wharton P199, it significantly enhances stem cell vitality, delays cell senescence, and extends the lifespan of cells, effectively fighting free radicals and aging at a cellular level.

Benefits:

  • Diminished pigmentation and brightened dull skin
  • Restored radiance and a healthy, luminous glow
  • Reduced appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
  • Prevention of adult acne breakouts
melasma awareness

Can melasma be prevented?

While it’s not always possible to prevent melasma entirely, especially when hormonal factors are at play, there are several steps you can take to minimise its occurrence or recurrence. Some individuals benefit from periodic maintenance treatments to keep melasma at bay. This might include regular light chemical peels or laser treatments, depending on your skin’s needs and response to treatment.

Sun Protection

Sun protection is absolutely crucial in managing melasma. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 daily, even on cloudy days, and reapply every 2 hours when outdoors. Look for sunscreens that contain physical blockers like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as these provide excellent protection against both UVA & UVB rays.

Protective Clothing

In addition to sunscreen, wear protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved shirts to provide additional protection against UV rays. Try to avoid peak sun hours between 10 am and 4 pm when UV rays are strongest. If you must be outdoors during these times, seek shade whenever possible.

Gentle Skincare

Use gentle skincare products and avoid those that irritate your skin, as inflammation can trigger or worsen melasma. Look for products labeled as non-comedogenic and free from harsh chemicals or fragrances.

hyperpigmentation

To Conclude

At Aestha clinic, we’re committed to helping you achieve clear, radiant skin. This Melasma Awareness Month, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with our expert dermatologists. We’ll assess your skin, discuss your concerns, and develop a tailored treatment plan to address your melasma effectively.

Remember, while melasma can be stubborn, with the right approach and ongoing management, it is a treatable condition. Don’t let melasma dim your glow – let us help you rediscover your confidence and put your best face forward. With our advanced treatments and your commitment to sun protection and skincare, you can take control of your melasma and enjoy clearer, more even-toned skin.

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