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What is Melasma & How Do You Treat It?

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Noticing brown spots after spending time in the sun this summer? With topical therapies and microneedling there are treatment options to help reduce those pesky patches.

What is Melasma?

Melasma, a condition that causes the appearance of dark spots on the skin, which can be amplified in the warmer months.

Melanocytes are skin cells that produce pigmentation; certain stimuli, such as spending time in the sun, can cause the melanocytes to start producing more pigment. While the condition does not cause pain or negative health effects, it can impact self-esteem, as discolorations tend to appear on areas of the body that are the most visible such as cheeks, nose, and chin.

What Can You Do To Manage Melasma?

While melasma can worsen during the summer months due to more sun exposure, and heat, as well as pregnancy and birth control pills, there are steps you can take to minimize the effects.

  1. Avoid waxing. Waxing the face and body may irritate the skin and potentially make melasma worse if out in the sun after waxing
  2. Choose skin care products wisely. Pick gentle formulations that don’t cause stinging or burning, which can be signs of skin irritation.
  3. Use sunscreen vigilantly. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 50 every day, even through the colder months
  4. Consider extra sun protection. Stay in the shade when possible and wear a wide-brimmed hat and other protective clothing to block the sun.

What Are The Treatment Options for Melasma?

Although melasma is very difficult to treat and the spots can recur there are treatment options for patients to help reduce the appearance of those pesky dark patches.  Treatment options can vary from topical therapy to actual procedures like facials and microneedling.

Topical therapies like Hydroquinone is the main line of treatment for patients with mild melasma. There is 2% over the counter which can take months to begin seeing effects from or 4% can be prescribed by a provider at Windsor Dermatology. With this increase in strength patients can begin to notice results after 4 weeks. In addition to hydroquinone other topical therapies such as Azelaic acid, kojic acid or niacinamide can be helpful alternative agents.

Although some practices use lasers to treat melasma at Windsor Dermatology we want to avoid the risk that a laser treatment can actually make things worse, especially in patients that are darker skin tone. There is a risk for further hyperpigmentation (darkening) of the skin that is being treated so it is best to have a discussion with one of our providers.

A completely safe alternative is Microneedling. Microneedling creates small micropunctures into the skin allowing for us to apply a topical therapy which helps lift the pigment from the skin.  Multiple treatments are required to achieve improvement. Although 100% clearance cannot be guaranteed patients do very well with treatments.

What To Expect During Microneedling for Hyperpigmentation

  • A numbing cream will be applied to the skin 30 minutes before hand in the office
  • The procedure typically takes 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the treatment area
  • Hylauronic acid is applied immediately following treatment
  • The area will be red for up to 5 days. During recovery, sun should be avoided
  • Patients will see improvements within a few weeks
  • A post care kit will be supplied to patients at their first visit and that is to be used for 5 days post treatment to avoid further hyperpigmentation.

*Individual results may vary

Visit Windsor Dermatology for a Consultation

Windsor Dermatology is here to help with treatment options for melasma. Call us today to schedule a consultation!

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