What is melasma?
Melasma is an acquired pigment disorder of the skin that affects women in particular. Hyperpigmentation occurs mainly in sun-exposed areas of the face. Mostly cheeks, chin, nose, forehead and upper lip are affected. It is characterized by brown to gray colored, local spots, which are mostly irregular in shape. Very rarely a melasma forms on the forearms. Apart from skin colorations, no other symptoms occur.
What causes melasma?
The causes of melasma are unknown. It is assumed that several causes are involved in the development of a melasma. For example, a high female estrogen level, sun exposure and genetic predisposition could lead to melasma. However, this has not yet been scientifically proven.
The following triggers for melasma are currently being discussed mainly:
- A high estrogen level
- Skin irritations
- A genetic predisposition
- Sun exposure
During pregnancy, the hormones oestrogen, progesterone and melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH) are greatly increased, especially at the end of pregnancy. In women affected by melasma, for example, it has been shown that hyperpigmented skin areas show a significantly higher expression of estrogen receptors compared to normal, neighbouring skin. Melanocytes are thought to be stimulated by female sex hormones to produce melanin (skin pigment) when exposed to the sun. A high female sex hormone level (especially the estrogen effect) is usually caused by pregnancy, taking the pill or hormone replacement therapy.
Why could stress be the cause of melasma?
Chronic stress causes many people to suffer from an undetected adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands are a very important endocrine organ and are responsible for the release of many hormones, including estrogen, progesterone and MSH. Therefore, a connection between adrenal fatigue and melasma is suspected. Read in this testimonial how Vanessa was able to get her adrenal glands working well again and heal her melasma: Adrenal Fatigue: How I Reversed Melasma.
What serious diseases can also trigger melasma?
Adrenal diseases, hypothyroidism and tumours are also likely to trigger melasma.
What types of melasma are there?
There are three types of melasma: epidermal melasma, dermal melasma and the mixed form.
Epidermal melasma – affects the uppermost skin layer, the discoloration is brown and clearly defined.Source- Eucerin.de
Dermal melasma – affects deeper layers in the dermis, characterized by a blue-grey coloration.
Mixed form – a combination of epidermal and dermal melasma with a brown-grey colour. As the melanin pigments in dermal melasma and in the mixed form are located in deeper skin layers, the treatment can be difficult.
Can melasma be cured?
Unfortunately, melasma can’t be cured right now. However, there are ways to treat the melasma, if it’s disturbing. Superficial well defined, brown pigmentation in the epidermis is easier to treat than deeper lying mostly gray brown pigmentation.
Does melasma fade over time?
It’s possible that the melasma disappear spontaneously after pregnancy, once the hormone balance has returned to normal. Even after the drop of the birth control pill, a disappearance of the spots is possible. Unfortunately, treatment doesn’t work for all patients. The spots can also return after a successful treatment.
Does melasma occur in all ethnic groups?
Yes, melasma occurs in all ethnic groups. However, it’s more common among women from Asian, Central and South American countries, who have a brown skin color (skin type IV).