What Is Melasma?
Melasma, also known as chloasma, refers to patches of darkened skin that show up on the face or forearms. Hyperpigmentation can also be categorized as darkening skin, mostly due to sun exposure. With melasma, these tan, brownish, or gray areas often occur evenly or symmetrically around the brow, cheeks, nose, or upper lip. Melasma is not at all uncommon but is found more frequently in women. It may be due to sun damage or hormonal fluctuations, such as menopause and pregnancy. Individuals with darker skin types are far more inclined to melasma compared to those who have lighter complexions, though exposure to sunlight is known to exacerbate it. Tracy Evans, M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist who regularly treats melasma at her practice, Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology Corte Madera. She and her team of dermatological professionals can provide several remedies to help lessen the appearance of your melasma.
What Is Hyperpigmentation?
Also identified as darkening areas of the skin, hyperpigmentation may have numerous different causes. Typically linked to excessive sun exposure without sunscreen, hyperpigmentation might need to be treated with innovative laser techniques. Additional common causes of hyperpigmentation may include acne, inflammation, and various skin injuries. Dr. Tracy Evans at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology Corte Madera can examine your skin and identify the best course of treatment for your hyperpigmentation concerns.
"Friendly, efficient and competent! I have been coming here for 3 years and have had serious dermatologic work and diagnostics and a cosmetic procedure . I have every confidence in the expertise of Dr.Evans and her staff."- C.M. / Google / Nov 11, 2020
"Friendly, efficient and competent! I have been coming here for 3 years and have had serious dermatologic work and a cosmetic procedure. I have every confidence in the expertise of Dr.Evans and her staff."- C.M. / Google / Nov 03, 2020
"I highly, highly recommend Dr. Evans as a doctor for skin cancer. She really knows her stuff and is trained in Mohs surgery (not many dermatologists are!). I really appreciate that she uses the latest technology to keep track of any spots on your skin and has a suspicious eye. I have had doctors in the past who did a quick skin check and literally missed the mark. I can’t really speak to the more cosmetic aspects of her practice, but I do not like how products are offered to me at the end of my appointment. Without being upfront about their cost or the fact that products are not returnable, Dr Evans’ assistant will present the products she recommends I purchase at the end of my appointment. (There is a small sign by the register about the return policy.) I know that these are vetted products and they must help her practice thrive, but I wish I could be offered either a drugstore alternative or a pharmacy prescription option. I’m sure the cost is not an issue for many of her patients, but it is for me and I am simply not able to do what she recommends as far as products are concerned. However, I find her to be so incredibly smart and trustworthy when it comes to skin cancer that I can simply overlook this part of the appointment."- E.R. / Yelp / Aug 18, 2020
"Today was my first time visiting Pacific Skin in Corte Madera. From the moment I arrived, it was an experience of friendliness and professionalism...both of the receptionists welcomed me so kindly, the medical assistant was very pleasant...and when Krystal Shin, my dermatologist came in, I felt I was in the BEST hands. She was so kind, informative, and professional. Even though I wasn’t feeling the best, they made me comfortable and confident that I would be just fine. I am so happy I found Pacific Skin. Thank you for a great experience!"- C.C. / Yelp / Jun 29, 2020
"An amazing staff working with a cutting edge doctor make up this team of talented artists. I feel lucky to be a client each time."- M.D. / Google / May 29, 2020
What Causes Melasma and Hyperpigmentation?
The specific source of melasma has not been unidentified; however, studies have shown that people generally develop melasma in the summertime when the sunlight is the most intense. In winter months, the hyperpigmentation will become less visible or milder. Specialists think that melasma might be caused by various factors, such as medicines that make the skin more susceptible to discoloration following exposure to UV rays, hormone fluctuations, heredity, and anti-seizure drugs. Pregnancy and excess sunlight exposure are perhaps the main causes of melasma, particularly in those with a hereditary predisposition to the condition. Almost half of pregnant women have melasma to some degree.
What Are the Symptoms of Melasma?
Melasma is usually diagnosed due to its symmetric patterning. Patients typically develop hyperpigmentation on the face, but it can also occur on the neck and forearms. The three most common areas for melasma to occur are:
- Centrofacial (center of your face) – dark patches on the chin, forehead, upper lip, and nose
- Malar (cheekbones) – discoloration along the top of the cheekbones
- Mandibular (jawbone) – hyperpigmentation parallel with the jawline
Melasma/Hyperpigmentation Treatment Options
The effectiveness of melasma treatments varies from patient to patient based on skin type, the darkness of the discoloration, and how long the melasma has been present. Dr. Evans does have her own proprietary melasma treatment that has shown great success that she may feel is the best option for you. She also might prescribe an exfoliating topical ointment, lotion, or gel to help expedite skin lightening. There are skin care treatments, such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and fractional lasers, that work to remove layers of discolored skin so new skin can regrow. Another solution is intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy. Unlike lasers that utilize intense, concentrated lighting, IPL is focused broadband light that is able to reach multiple layers of pigmentation. With any melasma treatment, a recurrence is possible due to the nature of the condition. However, your results will definitely last longer if you are dedicated to protecting your skin from overexposure to the sun.
Get a Professional Diagnosis
If you are fed up with attempting to conceal your melasma with cosmetics, or if you spend extra money on store-bought remedies that never have good results, we welcome you to contact Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology Corte Madera to schedule an appointment. Melasma requires a special diagnosis so the appropriate treatment can be provided. Using the wrong facial cream or chemical can actually make the condition worse. Dr. Evans and her team can correctly diagnose and address your melasma to get you back to a more even, clear complexion.