Hyperpigmentation and melasma are some of the common skin conditions faced by women. This increase in skin pigmentation is caused by several factors such as high sun exposure, change in hormone levels and certain medications. Due to excessive production of melanin, skin discolouration, brown patches and dark spots can appear on the face and body.
Hyperpigmentation and melasma primarily affect the face, and at first glance, they can be mistaken for being the same thing. However, they are two distinct conditions and it is important to know the differences so you can get the right treatment for optimal results.
1. Appearance of pigmented spots
Take a closer look at the skin pigmentation on your face. Hyperpigmentation may manifest as random patches or spots on the face and neck, taking on a darker colour than the rest of your skin. Melasma, on the other hand, appears more blotchy and causes certain areas of your skin to become more pigmented than the surrounding skin. It is also usually symmetrical, with patches of discoloured and darkened skin appearing on both sides of the face – commonly on the chin, upper lip, bridge of the nose and cheeks – though melasma can also develop on your arms, neck and elsewhere on the body.
2, Hyperpigmentation is often caused by sun exposure and inflammation
Common types of hyperpigmentation, such as acne scars and sun spots, are the result of prolonged exposure to UV and infrared rays. These factors will trigger the body to overproduce melanin, an essential skin pigment that is responsible for regulating your skin colour. Another contributing cause is the result of inflammation and trauma, like a cut or acne breakout that can break and damage the skin’s top layer.
3. Melasma has hormonal influences
Melasma are thought to result from the interplay of hormonal, UV exposure and genetic factors. This condition is more prevalent amongst women as compared to men, due to high levels of estrogen and progesterone which can trigger melasma and cause the formation of dark, discoloured skin. It is also why melasma is most common during pregnancy or after the use of oral contraceptives, potentially because of the change in hormone levels.
Genetics is a contributing factor which makes certain people be more susceptible to melasma than others, with Asians generally at higher risk. It can run in families and appear more commonly in individuals with deeper skin tones. Melasma is further also exacerbated by exposure to sun and heat.
4. Methods of treatment
Hyperpigmentation can be treated easily by over-the-counter products and targeted treatments like acne scar removal lasers, but melasma can be challenging to treat. They are also known for recurrence to happen, sodiligent sunscreen use is important to maintain results and control melasma.
Topical hydroquinone is often used together with retinoids, such as tretinoin and corticosteroid, to reduce pigment production by melanocytes and prevent formed pigments from transferring into skin cells. Patients can also be placed on a daily care regiment that includes skin-lightening ingredients like tranexamic acid, kojic acid and arbutin to help suppress the formation of excess melanin.
It is important to differentiate melasma from other pigmented skin conditions so the right treatment can be recommended. Otherwise, melasma can be worsened by treatments like IPL (Intense pulsed light) which is more suitable for sun spots and freckles. Melasma will be diagnosed based on one’s medical history, distribution of skin pigmentation and clinical examination of the skin.
Keep melasma under control
At Aesthetics Central Clinic, our doctors offer the Cosmelan Peel, a non-invasive treatment that can treat all types of melasma. This depigmentation peel inhibits tyrosinase, an enzyme that’s responsible for melanin production. The first part of the treatment is an in-clinic procedure with the application of the cream mask that will be left on the skin for several hours. Thereafter, you will be instructed to begin your maintenance cream at home, as the second part of the treatment, for a period of 1 month to maintain the lightening effect.
While melasma cannot be cured, there are still ways for you to minimize its appearance and lighten the visibility of those brown patches. From topical lightening creams and chemical peels to pigmentation lasers, it may require varying combinations of treatments before you see an improvement. It is best to consult with our doctor to discuss the most suitable treatment options for your skin’s needs.
Contact our concierge at +65 62218221 or +65 97268856 to find out more.