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Your Healthy Skin is Our Priority

The Dermatology & Skin Surgery Center of Wilmington

What is Melasma?

Melasma is a pigmentation disorder that presents as brown or grayish patches on the skin. There are no other physical symptoms, but the uneven skin coloring is bothersome to some people.

Melasma is most common on the face, especially the bridge of the nose, forehead, cheeks, and upper lip. However, it can show up on any skin with sun exposure, such as the neck, shoulders, and forearms. It’s most common in women with darker skin tones. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, men only account for 10% of all melasma cases.

General Info

What Causes Melasma?

The cause of melasma is not fully understood, but it’s thought to be a malfunction of the skin’s melanocytes (the cells that produce the skin pigment melanin). People with darker skin tones have more melanin, which is why they are more prone to melasma than people with fair skin.

There are many causes of skin hyperpigmentation, such as acne, sun damage, and inflammation from an eczema flare-up. Melasma is simply one form of hyperpigmentation.

Some possible triggers for melasma are sun exposure, hormonal changes from pregnancy, and skincare products that cause individual sensitivity and irritation.

Seeking Treatment

Treatment Options for Melasma in Wilmington, NC

Treatment isn’t always necessary for melasma. For example, if hormonal changes during pregnancy caused a woman’s melasma, it’s likely to fade on its own after birth. However, there are many options available for those who wish to address the discoloration, including:

Skin lightening cream – Hydroquinone is a common treatment for melasma. It’s available in a lotion, gel, or cream formula, and when applied topically, it lightens dark patches of skin. Other skin lightening creams for melasma include corticosteroids and tretinoin cream (also known as Retin-A). Topical creams are usually the first step in treating melasma.

Chemical peel – During a chemical peel, a dermatologist uses a thin layer of acid to exfoliate the top layer of skin. As the skin heals, it no longer has the concentrated areas of melanin, resulting in a smoother, more even tone.


Preventing Melasma

Since exposure to the sun is a trigger for melasma flare-ups, the cornerstone for preventing it is photoprotection. Daily use of sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, wearing a broad-brimmed hat, long sleeves, and sunglasses will help protect your skin while you’re outside. It’s also best to avoid being outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s UV rays are at their peak strength.

We also recommend wearing sunscreen and protective clothing if you’ll be getting sunlight through a window because UV rays can pass through unless the glass is specially coated.

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Contact The Dermatology & Skin Surgery Center of Wilmington for Effective Melasma Treatment

If you’re interested in learning more about which melasma treatment would give you the best results, schedule an appointment at the Dermatology & Skin Surgery Center of Wilmington today.

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Have questions or concerns? Please call us at 910.782.0028.

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