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Treatment and Prevention Tips for Melasma

From the Colorado Dermatology Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Daily Do of Dermatology - Title
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Video Transcript:

So here’s another “Daily Do” from your friendly local dermatologist.

All right, what is melasma, or the “mask of pregnancy” if you will? So melasma is a hyperpigmentation of the skin, or darkening of the skin predominantly in some exposed areas that has been triggered usually by hormones, specifically estrogen. So if you think about it, the “mask of pregnancy” happens when pregnant women who have a lot of hormones coursing through their body are out in the sun, and that triggers a reaction in the sun exposed areas of the body to make it darker or hyper-pigmented. It can also happen from things like birth control pills, because birth control pills are forms of hormones, and then you get out in the sun.

Preventing Melasma Before It Shows

So if you have family members who are prone to melasma, please, please, please, prevent it before it shows up. And the best way to do that is with sunscreen, with hats, with sun-protective clothing. And the sunscreens I really want just like everywhere else, but it’s more important for melasma is the zinc and titanium-based sunscreens. The zinc and titanium-based sunscreens, they reflect the sun, and that’s much better for melasma and I think for everything else than the chemical based sunscreens that just change the energy of the sun as it goes into your skin. Now missing even one day a year for people who have melasma or potentially could develop it, just one day a year, can set into motion a whole course of activities in your skin that could take us a year to get rid of.

Treatments for Melasma

Your local dermatologist has different prescriptions and different chemical peels, different light devices, all sorts of stuff, to help you if you do have melasma. But I know for me, I won’t even touch you, unless I have your commitment that every single day of your life, you’re gonna be wearing a zinc or titanium based sunscreen. And I don’t care if it’s completely overcast, cloudy in Seattle and you’re not gonna see the sun for three months, you’re still putting that sunscreen on, because sun still goes through the clouds.

This is a hard process to control. Just like every other thing in medicine, when your body wants to do something because of its genetic structure, it’s hard for us to combat it, because your body naturally is fighting us in that battle. So for melasma, for the “mask of pregnancy,” its estrogens, and its sun exposure with the genetic predisposition, and we really need your help with the daily sunscreens and sun-safe practices so that we can get you the skin that you want.

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