Looking healthy is not just a matter of vanity. After all, changes related to the skin and teeth, for example, can cause damage to self-confidence and self-esteem. This is because the face is the most exposed part of the body, in addition to being the most observed and remembered by other people.
A very common skin problem that affects well-being is melasma, characterized by the appearance of dark spots, especially on the face. Despite being a benign condition, that is, it is not related to the appearance of cancer, melasma can cause negative symptoms in the individual.
Therefore, it is important to diagnose the problem as soon as possible, in order to institute appropriate treatment and stop its progression. In this post, we will explain what melasma is, what are the causes of this problem, how the diagnosis and treatment are made and other important information. Check out!
What is melasma?
Melasma is a skin disorder more prevalent in females than males. Usually, it occurs on the face, in places such as the cheekbone, region above the lips (fluff), forehead and chin. However, it is also possible that melasma manifests itself in the cervix, arms, neck and back. It is possible to verify that the affected places are those exposed to the sun most frequently.
This problem is characterized by spots that can vary in color from light brown to dark or almost black. These stains have irregular edges, are reticulated and can happen on both sides of the body, being symmetrical. However, it is also possible that melasma appears only on one side. It is generally larger than one centimeter and can occupy large extensions of body areas.
What are the causes of this problem?
Despite being a very common problem, there is still no definite cause for melasma. Experts believe that a set of environmental factors related to the genetic factor predispose to the appearance of the problem. This is because there are some people with genes that determine that the skin is easier to spot when there is interaction with environmental factors.
One of the external causes is hormonal variation, which happens when the woman receives hormones through birth control pills, hormone replenishers (due to endocrine health problems or after menopause, for example) or during pregnancy.
Sunlight has ultraviolet rays that are able to stimulate melanocytes, skin cells that are responsible for pigmentation. In melasma these cells are believed to produce excess pigment in some areas of the face, causing blemishes. That is why people who expose themselves to the sun without protection are good candidates for developing the problem.
Another reason that confirms the interaction of the sun is that, in people who have already treated the spots, the exposure usually causes them to return. Finally, melasma can also appear in patients who have sunbathed with a hat and with sunscreen. This is because exposing the skin to high temperatures is able to worsen the problem, even if there is no contact with ultraviolet rays directly.
How is the diagnosis made?
Patches on the face can mean several types of problems, including melasma. That is why, when you notice a difference in skin color, you should quickly seek a dermatologist.
This professional will perform a thorough analysis of the skin and the patient’s medical history in order to determine whether the brown spot is melasma or not. For this, you can use the wood lamp in the office, since it emits a light capable of helping in the diagnosis, as well as other devices that increase the doctor’s vision power.
Afterwards, the problem will be classified in:
- epidermal melasma;
- dermal melasma;
- or mixed melasma.
Epidermal or superficial melasma affects only the cells of the skin’s protective layer, which is in contact with the environment. Therefore, it is easier to treat. Dermal melasma is characterized by spots that reach deeper layers of the skin. In this case, the dermis, which is an intermediate layer, is the most difficult treatment. In mixed melasma, both the superficial and deep layers are affected.
Are there related risk factors?
People who fit the following factors are more likely to develop melasma:
- female gender ;
- frequent exposure to the sun;
- exposure to constant heat;
- contraceptive pill use ;
- hormonal problems ;
- treatment of endocrine disorders;
- dark skin tone;
- family history of skin blemishes;
- lack of use of sunscreen.
Is there effective treatment?
Unfortunately, melasma has no cure. However, there are currently several alternatives to alleviate the problem and prevent the spots from spreading to larger areas.
Without a doubt, the first recommendation is to use sunscreen with a high protection factor throughout the day. After all, even if the person is not directly exposed to the sun, it is possible that the light from the environments and even from the electronic devices stimulate the melanocytes.
In addition, the skin should be refreshed in the summer to avoid the heat that generates the spots. For that, it is recommended to have a thermal water always on hand. Physical protection from the sun, with caps, hats and visors, is also important.
To remove the stains there are some options. It is important to note that each skin will respond better to a treatment. Thus, it is essential that the type of treatment is indicated by a specialist after analyzing the type of melasma.
Among the options are lasers, such as Spectra. Currently, this is one of the best to treat melasma, since it has a high affinity with the pigments that form the spots.
Peels, made with substances combined with acids, are able to renew the layers of the skin and, thus, gradually improve the appearance of blemishes. Other forms of treatment include whitening creams, microneedling, substance infusion and others.
Although there is no cure, melasma can be smoothed to the point of being unrecognizable on the skin. Therefore, if a stain appears, be sure to seek a dermatologist to start care as early as possible. Also, regardless of age , be sure to use sunscreen every day.