Hormonal Skincare Diaries: A Guide to Managing Melasma
Anyone who suffers from melasma knows how devastating it can be. Many who don't know a lot about it are surprised to find that, although there are number of factors that can contribute to melasma, the primary reason is hormonal - much like its facial friend, acne.
I've struggled with melasma for around eighteen months but it has not been until recent times that I saw and felt the extent of it. As you can see from the below comparison, there is a BIG difference. In fact, it's so prevalent you shouldn't be surprised to hear that a guy, unknowingly, asked if I had two black eyes.
But, turns out I am not alone. Celebrities like Lara Worthington and Jenna Dewan have admitted to struggling with melasma too. So, how do we prevent it, fix it, and kick it in the butt altogether? I sat down with Caci Clinic's National Nurse Trainer, Brandy Wehinger to get the inside word on managing melasma.
1. FIRSTLY, WHAT IS MELASMA?
Melasma is pigmentation caused by hormones. It usually appears as symmetrical light-tan to light-brown patches on the face. It is more common in women than men and is considered a chronic condition.
2. HOW DOES MELASMA DIFFER FROM REGULAR PIGMENTATION?
Most pigmentation spots on the skin are caused by Sunlight (UV light). We have cells in our skin called melanocytes that are protective against UV light. When they are exposed to the sun’s rays they begin to form an umbrella of pigment that protects underlying skin and structures.
Melasma is caused by melanocytes that have been stimulated by the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hyper-stimulated melanocytes are extremely sensitive to UV light and will make pigment with even a little UV exposure.
3. WHO ARE THE LIKELY CULPRITS OF MELASMA?
Those who are most likely to get melasma are those with a family history and who have an excess of estrogen and progesterone, like pregnant women and those taking contraception. A common scenario is for a woman to notice it after they switched oral contraceptive pills and spent some time outdoors.
4. ARE THERE ANY TREATMENTS THAT CAN FIX MELASMA?
There is no ‘fix’ for melasma, but there are some things we can do to help soften it. Using SPF everyday will decrease the melanocytes’ need for creating more pigment and help prevent more melasma. Products with a tyrosine kinase blocker can also help, like the Murad White Brilliance range or the Murad Rapid Age and Pigment Lightening Serum. These topical products stop melanocytes from being able to make more melanin. We can also do treatments in clinic that can help soften or lighten the melasma pigment like microdermabrasion, sonophoresis infusion and micro needling. These treatments approach melasma from different angles: exfoliating surface cells, putting active ingredients deep into the skin and breaking up deeper pigment.
5. WHAT ABOUT PHOTO REJUVENATION TREATMENTS?
Photo rejuvenation is an excellent treatment for sun damage and pigment caused by exposure to UV light. However, for melasma it is not the best choice. Due to the influence of hormones in melasma and the fact that it is an on-going skin condition, Photo rejuvenation can only offer a temporary improvement and might even make it worse. Instead, we recommend a series of skin conditioning treatments and Micro Needling. These treatments help soften the pigment without stimulating the melanocytes to make more pigment.
6. ARE THERE ANY PREVENTATIVE MEASURES I CAN TAKE AGAINST MELASMA?
Using SPF everyday will decrease the melanocytes’ need for creating more pigment and help prevent more melasma.
7. HOW DO I MANAGE MY MELASMA ON A DAILY BASIS?
Using SPF everyday will decrease the melanocytes’ need for creating more pigment and help prevent more melasma. Products with a tyrosine kinase blocker can also help, like the Murad White Brilliance range or the Murad Rapid Age and Pigment Lightening Serum. These topical products stop melanocytes from being able to make more melanin.
Want to know more about melasma or hormonal skincare? Let me know here.