The 411 on Melasma

Summer has arrived, and so has the sun. Protecting your skin is needed more than e-v-e-r. Besides your typical sunburn, sun exposure can cause a plethora of other conditions. Today, we are talking about a common disorder called Melasma.

Melasma is a condition where brown or grey patches appear on the skin. It’s time to ‘face’ it, the most common area effected by Melasma is on the face. This includes: the forehead, cheeks, upper lip and nose. Not to be forgotten, it can also appear on forearms, neck and shoulders. Anywhere exposed to sunlight is game! The good news is they are harmless, and do not pose physical symptoms to the body.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 90% of those diagnosed with Melasma are women. Even more specifically, those with darker complexions and who are pregnant have a greater risk of developing the disorder.

Though there is no solid proof as to why Melasma occurs, it is thought that a malfunction of melanocytes causes melanin to produce too much color. Thus, those with darker complexions (and more melanocyte cells) are more susceptible. On the pregnancy side, changes in hormones could cause the melanocytes to take on more color. Genetics may play a part in this too, as studies have shown that those with close relatives that have experienced Melasma are more likely to develop it too.

On the contrary to what you might think, treatment is not always necessary for Melasma. If it’s due to pregnancy hormones, it’s likely that it will go away after delivery and your hormones balance out. For other cases, it can last for years. The good news? There are a variety of treatments that can help remove or make the patches less apparent. Remember, prevention is key! Wear hats when you know you’ll be outside for a long period of time and apply sunscreen daily. Turning these into good habits will not only prevent Melasma, but other skin conditions and wrinkles, too!

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