Do’s and don’ts kind of advices usually bore people, because they sound like old wives tales or myths. “Drink lots of water, else you will get a sore throat”, or “Don’t eat chilli, they will make your skin break out”.
In terms of skin and hyperpigmentation, some people believe that melasma is triggered by stress; some Chinese even believe there are supernatural causes to it. In this article, we break the myths of melasma and explore the best doctor-approved treatments for it.
WHAT IS MELASMA?
First things first, melasma is a facial condition that causes patches of hyperpigmentation to appear on the skin. It is more common in females compared to males. These patches of pigmentation can cause some distress as they can cover parts of the cheeks, the forehead, bridge of the nose and the upper lip, resembling a mask. Causes of melasma appear to be a mixture of genetics predisposition, sun exposure, hormones, and sometimes certain medical conditions such a hypothyroidism.
YOU CAN’T CURE MELASMA – TRUTH OR MYTH?
You may have heard that melasma is difficult to treat. But does it mean there is no way of getting rid of it? Well, experts say there is hope, but do not expect to find a cookie-cutter melasma treatment plan on your own. It involves a titration of different pigment-lightening ingredients and possible medical or laser treatments.
That’s when your trusty dermatologist or skin doctor enters the picture – the very first step would be getting the correct diagnosis by your doctor. Here are some of the most effective tips for fighting melasma that doctors might use.
1. “NO SUN” Therapy
It shouldn’t surprise you that since melasma can be triggered by sun exposure, it can also worsen existing melasma? The first step to treating this sort of pesky pigmentation would be to avoid the sun. Wear a broad rimmed hat if you are going to be out in the sun and always apply a good sunscreen. What is a good sunscreen? Aim for a broad spectrum physical sunscreen which usually contains zince oxide/titanium oxide, at least SPF 30, and apply it generously to your whole face. In general, you need at least half a teaspoonful of sunscreen to cover your whole face adequately.
2. Anti-pigment Ingredients
Unfortunately, what works for everyone may not work for you. Doctors often prescribe a combination of hydroquinone, topical tranexamic acid, ascorbic acid, retinol, arbutin, and azelic acid. Don’t go rushing to buy whatever you can find without speaking to your doctor first though.
3. Laser Treatments
Once you have started on topicals, doctors may sometimes prescribe laser treatments for melasma. Look for names such as pico pigment lasers, fraxel thulium, clear and brilliant and occasionally, pulsed dye lasers such as VBeam.
4. Medical therapy
There have been a few studies which showed that low-dose oral tranexamic acid could work for melasma. Again, speak to your doctor about this to see if this is a suitable treatment for you.
In short, melasma treatment takes patience and time. If anyone offers you a single treatment that can “cure” your melasma, you should probably turn around and walk right out of the door!