What is melasma? By Sarah Baker at Enliven Skincare
What is Melasma?
Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation commonly experienced during pregnancy, it is often referred to ask ‘the pregnancy mask’. If you’ve noticed dark brown splotches on your own or your partners’ skin - this could well be Melasma. Melasma presents as confetti-like patches over the forehead, nose, cheeks and upper lip. This pattern of marks can be strong and distinctive or occur in only certain areas of the face. You may also find that freckles or areolas appear a deeper shade. The British Skin Foundation have documented that up to 50% of women during pregnancy may be affected.
What causes Melasma?
During pregnancy women experience a steep increase in progesterone and oestrogen levels. This imbalance of hormones stimulate excess melanin production. Melasma can also become a problem for women using birth control pills or other hormonal therapies. As so many pigmentation problem are related to certain hormone fluctuations, women are much more likely to have problems with hyper pigmentation then men. Men can still experience hyperpigmentation issues but these cases would usually be linked to sun damage. Melasma is especially common in darker-skinned women. If you are of Asian or African descent you naturally have more pigment in your skin than a fair-skinned person.
What can you do to treat it?
Your skin will likely return to normal after you’ve had your baby but if it’s troubling you in the meantime here’s a few tips.
* Protect yourself from the sun! Sun exposure may worsen the symptoms of melasma so make sure your using a Broad Spectrum SPF50.
* In some cases the skin can still experience darkening from exposure to heat in hot weather (even with SPF). If it’s really troubling you, you might consider staying in doors with a nice cool fan instead of basking in the garden.
* Eat foods that contain folic acid. This includes leafy greens, spinach, kale, beans, citrus fruit, pasta, rice and cereal. If you’re struggling to include these into your diet you may consider a daily supplement tablet if recommended by your GP.
* Use the right skin care. There’s lots of specialist products and ranges with key ingredients to inhibit melanin production and brighten the skin
* Cover it. Choose a corrective concealer and foundation to match your skin tone. It’s recommended to pick a concealer 1-2 shades lighter than that of your foundation. First apply the concealer to your darker areas of concern and then apply your foundation over the top.
In most cases melanoma will spontaneously resolve after child birth but if the problem persists - professional chemical peels are successful in treating pigmentation (although most are off limits during pregnancy and breastfeeding).
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I hope you enjoyed reading this piece on Melasma (hopefully you learnt something). You can contact me for a complimentary skin health assessment or any advice on skin care/products. I’d be happy to help where I can.
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