Melasma is a skin condition in which darkened areas of skin appear on the face, and sometimes, the forearms. The dark patches typically develop on the upper lip, on the nose, and in symmetric areas around the cheeks and eyebrows and can be grayish, brown, or tan. The unique symmetry of melasma distinguishes it from other conditions that cause darkening of the skin. Both men and women can develop melasma, though it is much more common in females, especially in pregnancy and menopause. It can also be caused by sun damage, and existing patches of melasma can be aggravated or darkened by sun exposure. Though sun exposure does play a part in melasma, it seems to be more common in individuals with darker complexions than those with pale skin. If you have melasma and are frustrated with your appearance, consider scheduling a consultation at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology San Francisco. Dermatologist Tracy Evans and her professional medical team can evaluate your condition and prescribe a number of treatments that can help reduce the visibility of this cosmetic condition.
"Tracy Evans is a great dermatologist. I had a very small bump on my eyelid that was hardly noticeable. She spotted it and it turned out to be cancer. It was amazing to me that she saw it during a body scan. It had already started growing. I was totally impressed with her diagnostic skills and the resulting surgery, had she not spotted it early on, it would have been much worse. She is also very informative and answers all questions and concerns. I would highly recommend her. Also, her staff are very professional and friendly."- M.M. / Yelp / Apr 07, 2020
"Amazing and I’m happy with my results every single time. Dr Tracy Evans lifer"- L.Z. / Facebook / Mar 10, 2020
"I really had a great time! Tracy is Awesome her staff is Great very friendly....Made me feel comfortable. Cant wait to go back in May!"- L.W. / Google / Feb 06, 2020
"Danielle is super awesome! I always feel so well taken care of when I am there to see her. Her knowledge and skill has me trust her completely. I admire her for what she does and the confidence she has given me. Thank you!"- H.W. / Facebook / Dec 11, 2019
"Danielle D. did my filler and I had a wonderful experience! This was my first time getting filler and I was nervous, but Danielle put me at ease. She set my expectations properly before, during, and after the procedure. Under her care, I felt safe and respected. My results were phenomenal -- subtle, yet the improvement I craved. It took me awhile to gather the courage to post this because I was nervous to admit publicly that I got "some work." But honestly, we women shouldn't be ashamed to admit this! We're beautiful as we are, but it's fun to explore the world of cosmetics. 10/10, would recommend :)"- G.C. / Yelp / Dec 05, 2019
The exact cause of melasma is unknown. Experts believe that the dark patches in melasma could be triggered by several factors, including hormone fluctuations, a family history of melasma, anti-seizure medications, and other medications that make the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light. Darker skin seems to be more prone to developing melasma. Overexposure to sunlight is considered the leading cause of melasma, especially in individuals with a genetic predisposition to this condition. Clinical studies have shown that individuals typically develop melasma in the summer months when the sun is most intense. In the winter, the hyperpigmentation tends to be less visible or lighter. Pregnancy hormones also seem to be a trigger, as around 50% of women develop melasma while pregnant.
Melasma is characterized by symmetrical discoloration or hyperpigmentation primarily on the face. However, some patients do have melasma on the forearms and neck area. Three types of common facial patterns have been identified in those with melasma:
- Centrofacial – (center of the face) hyperpigmentation on the forehead, upper lip, nose, and chin
- Malar – (cheekbones) dark patterns on the upper cheeks
- Mandibular – (jawbone) discoloration along the jaw
Melasma Treatment Options
There are several options for treating melasma, but the method Dr. Evans will choose will depend on factors, like your skin type and how long you've had melasma. Dr. Evans has developed her own unique treatment plan for melasma, which she may determine is a great option for you. There are also a variety of medical-grade topical creams, gels, or lotions that can be used to exfoliate and lighten the skin. Dermatology resurfacing treatments, such as microdermabrasion, chemical peels, or fractional laser procedures, which remove old skin and promote regrowth, have also been successful. Another option is intense pulsed light therapy or IPL. Unlike lasers, which use intense, focused light, IPL is intense broadband light so the recovery time is briefer. Improvements usually last longest when the patient implements good sun protection and skin care.
Get a Professional Diagnosis
While melasma is a very common skin condition that many women deal with, it can be tricky to treat. There are many over-the-counter remedies available, but using the wrong one can ultimately make your melasma darker. If you have experienced this problem or are simply fed up with OTC creams not working as advertised, it is time to see a professional dermatologist. Schedule your consultation with Dr. Tracy Evans or one of her experienced physician's assistants at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology San Francisco to start your journey back to an even skin tone.