Melasma is a type of pigmentation problem that affects the face. It can be distinguished from other skin conditions by its characteristics: patches of skin that are light to dark brown or bluish-gray in color that are spread on the cheeks, chin, forehead, nose, and upper lip. Sometimes they go as far as the back, forearms, and neck. This article will help you understand more about this skin condition and the various treatment options available in Singapore to cure melasma. Read on.
How does the skin develop melasma?
The skin is our first line of defense when it comes to protecting the body from external factors that could potentially be harmful to it. It is composed of three layers of tissue:
- Epidermis – topmost layer
- Dermis – middle layer
- Subcutis – deepest layer
The topmost layer of the skin (epidermis) is made up of melanocytes. These contain melanin, a substance produced by the body that is responsible for giving color or pigmentation to the skin, eyes, and hair. When the skin is exposed to factors like heat, light, UV rays, or conditions that affect the balance of hormones in the body, the melanocytes become triggered and more melanin gets produced. As a result, the skin’s color becomes darker. This is how melasma develops in the skin.
Melasma is categorized into three types:
- Dermal melasma – patches that are bluish or light brown in color with blurred borders.
- Epidermal – patches that are dark brown in color with borders that are distinct.
- Mixed Melasma – patches that are bluish and brown with borders that are both blurred and distinct
What factors can influence your risk of developing melasma?
There are several factors that can influence and place you at high risk of developing melasma. These are:
- Your gender — Women are more prone to develop this condition as compared to men.
- Your genetics — Melasma can be passed on through genes in the family.
- Your skin tone — Individuals who have medium to dark skin tone are at greater risk of developing melasma as compared to those with light skin color. This skin pigmentation problem is observed to affect more people of Asian, Black, Latin, and Native American descent.
What are the causes of melasma?
There are several triggering factors that cause melasma to occur in the skin. The usual culprits are:
- Cosmetics and skin care products – Ingredients in makeup or skin care products may be harsh to the skin and cause irritation, leading to melasma.
- Exposure to UV rays – This can be light that comes from the sun or tanning beds.
- Genetics – Melasma is common among blood relatives.
- Hormones – Hormonal imbalance that affects the estrogen and progesterone can trigger the development of melasma. This is usually prevalent in women who are pregnant.
- Prolonged exposure to LED Screens – Blue light that emanates from laptop, TV, or mobile phone screens can cause damage to the skin when exposed for a long period of time.
- Medical conditions or diseases – Some illnesses, such as hypothyroidism, can trigger melasma in people.
- Phototoxic drugs – These are medications that can cause you to be sensitive to sunlight. Examples of which are antibiotics, antipsychotics, diuretics, hypoglycaemic, and NSAIDs.
- Stress – Some researchers believe that stress could trigger melasma as it overproduces the stress hormone called cortisol.
How is melasma diagnosed?
The most qualified medical practitioner to diagnose any skin condition is a dermatologist.
To diagnose your symptoms, your doctor will take a closer look at the areas where the pigmentations are present. Medical devices, such as a dermatoscope or a Wood’s lamp, may be used to examine the skin thoroughly. These devices allow your doctor to see the depth of skin affected by the dark pigmentation. The black light emitted by a Wood’s lamp can determine the type of melasma that you have based on the color that they show once exposed to the light.
If your skin has other symptoms that are also consistent with other skin conditions, your doctor may recommend a skin biopsy. This procedure involves the removal of a small part of your skin. This will be sent to a laboratory for further examinations.
Melasma is considered a chronic condition. If you find some irregularities with your skin tone, it is best to consult with a dermatologist to get the proper diagnosis for your condition. Do not, in any way, attempt to treat your skin problem on your own as improper treatment may aggravate its current condition and make it worse.
What are the melasma treatments available in Singapore?
There are several melasma treatments that are available in Singapore today. These include:
- Laser treatments
- Oral medications and supplements
- Medicated skincare products
Laser treatments are popularly used to treat pigmentation problems. These powerful machines work by breaking down abnormal skin pigmentations using energy-charged laser beams. Once melanin is dispersed into smaller pieces, the body absorbs them and naturally releases them as waste. The ability of lasers to focus on a target area leaves the surrounding skin with no damage. Lasers that are used for melasma treatments are:
- Clarity II
- Dual Yellow
- Spectra XT
Oral medications and supplements are also effective melasma treatments. Medicines and supplements that have Glutathione help prevent pigment development. As these are orally taken, the medicines work their way into the deep layers of the skin to control melanin production, which eventually spares the skin’s surface from pigmentation formation.
Medicated skincare products contain a mixture of ingredients that regulates the production of melanin while at the same time combating the symptoms of melasma. These products also prevent melasma from coming back.
Sylfirm is the latest development for melasma cures. This aesthetic procedure uses radio frequency waves that are coursed through micro needles in pulses targeting anomalous blood vessels that influence melasma formation. The procedure also hinders melanin from affecting the deep layers of the skin.
Melasma is a chronic skin pigmentation condition that is treatable with certain aesthetic procedures and medications. There is a possibility that this skin flaw disappears on its own, only if the factors that trigger excessive melanin production are eliminated. Dermatologists can help diagnose and provide effective treatments for this condition. In Singapore, you can visit Harmony Aesthetics Clinic to learn more about their melasma cures.
Harmony Aesthetics Clinic
101 Irrawaddy Road, #09—01
Royal Square Medical Centre
Phone: 6970 5418
Whatsapp: 8822 3089