Most of us have a clear idea of what hyperpigmentation is but it’s still often confused with melasma which is both similar and very different, hence the confusion.
Pigmentation is merely any darker patch on our body or face caused by an excess of melanin, the substance (or pigment) that gives our skin it’s colour. The triggers for this are external – things like unprotected sun exposure or acne that can leave a dark mark in its wake. (In the case of the latter it’s rreferred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.)
Melasma, however, is pigmentation that’s primarily driven by the hormone oestrogen which is why 90% of those who get it are women, usually while pregnant, on the birth control or hormone therapy. In saying that, light and heat most definitely make it worse. Also, if you’re darker-skinned, Indian or Asian, you’ll have a higher risk of being affected.
If you’re confused as to whether you’re suffering from pigmentation or melasma it’s a good idea to see a doctor or dermatologist who can help you make a proper diagnosis. Unlike pigmentation that can occur anywhere, melasma generally manifests symmetrically, meaning it’ll appear on either sides of your forehead, cheeks, nose, upper lip and chin.
The condition is usually a dynamic one, meaning it needs lifelong management. The marks are also a lot more stubborn to shift than pigmentation which is why it’s best to get expert help. If you’ve been treating what you assume is pigmentation with over the counter products and getting no joy, you might well be suffering from melasma.
The Quest for Clarity
If you’ve been diagnosed with melasma, don’t panic because are lots of things you can do to beat it. At Skin Renewal, we take a holistic approach meaning we like to get to the root cause of the issue and, in the case of melasma, this will involve addressing the hormonal affect. The doctor might suggest you switch to a different form of birth control or prescribe supplements that will help you balance any oestrogen that’s gone into over drive.
As far as tackling the discolouration goes, again, this won’t happen via a ‘one size fits all’ solution. We find that taking a multi-pronged approach almost always serves up the best results so your treatment will take your unique situation into account as well as the severity of your melasma as there are different levels.
Our in-office melasma treatments include peels, laser and a Brightening IV infusion that contains glutathione, an incredibly powerful antioxidant, that can help lighten your skin tone.
When it comes to peels, our doctors will be able to suggest one that’ll be the right strength as well as how many you’d need. One of our most popular when it comes to treating any kind of pigmentation, melasma included, is the Azelan Melanostop peel, a combination of several brightening ingredients that’s enhanced by transdermal mesotherapy. (The latter is completely painless and involves using a machine that emits electrical pulses and vibrations to transfer serums specifically formulated to improve pigmentation into the deeper layers of your skin.)
As far as lasers go, if you’ve got a darker skin tone, don’t worry about not being a good candidate. Skin Renewal has several pigmentation-busting ‘colour blind’ lasers, Laser Genesis being just one of them, that have a good track record of reducing if not completely clearing melasma.
Treatment at home
Any in-office treatment targeting melasma is doomed to fail if you’re not participating in the proper ‘home care’ so don’t underestimate its importance.
Intense heat as well as light aggravate melasma so it’s vital you avoid both as best you can. This means things like saunas and very hot showers or baths are out. Also, when we say light, we mean it. It’s not just the UVA and UVB rays from the sun that can act as triggers but infra-red A, a relatively new discovery that’s found in light in general. This means that light from just about any source, be it your computer screen or fluorescent light are also catalysts.
Fortunately, there’s no need to relocate to a dungeon just yet. Topical antioxidants like vitamins C, E, ferulic acid and phloretin can protect against infra-red A. So, if you’re applying an SPF 50 twice a day as well as a mix of potent antioxidants every day you’ll be 96% protected as opposed to just 56% if you were to wear sunscreen alone.
On the subject of topicals, using a skincare system that’s specially formulated to tackle pigmentation is a must and, at Skin Renewal, we offer several brands that are proven to help you lighten up. Lumixyl’s Brightening System, for example, makes use of a powerful peptide that can help minimise dark marks just as well as hydroquinone but without the irritation.
With the right guidance regarding treatment both in-office as well as home, it’s entirely possibly to minimise if not completely get rid of the appearance of melasma. All you need to do is take the first step and that starts with making a doctor’s appointment today.
More information is available at Skin Renewal. This is a sponsored post.