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Melasma vs Hyperpigmentation – How Can You Tell?
Knowing the real issue is the first step in treating it.
By Azra Shuib | January 7 2020
Firstly, let’s get to know what hyperpigmentation is. Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition that causes darkening of the skin, giving you dark patches on the face. It can be mild to very obvious. From a physical health point of view, hyperpigmentation is harmless as it’s only caused by surplus of pigment. Hyperpigmentation is also an umbrella term – it encompasses your skin discoloration caused by sun damage, acne scars, and marks from eczema, among other issues.
The most common type of hyperpigmentation are age spots, also known as liver spots. These marks develop over time as consequences of long-term sun exposure.
What is melasma?
Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation. It is more commonly seen in women, often referred to as ‘mask of pregnancy’ when it happens to pregnant women. Melasma typically appears on the face and is symmetrical, with matching marks on both sides of the face. Melasma can be caused by sun exposure, hormonal changes and genetics.
Generally, melasma is a skin issue that is tough to treat, especially when it is related to hormonal changes. Unlike traditional hyperpigmentation that may respond to products containing brightening agents like vitamin C or niacinamide, melasma hasn’t seen similar success rate.
In some cases, however, melasma can disappear on its own when it’s caused by pregnancy or birth control pills. If you have melasma that does not subside with various products, you might need to undergo laser treatments that can directly treat problematic areas. However, 1 session might not be enough. As mentioned, melasma is difficult to treat, so try to get regular treatment sessions as recommended by your dermatologists or aestheticians so you can get the best results.
Measures to Prevent Melasma or Stop It from Getting Worse
Almost all causes of hyperpigmentation are made worse, or even caused by the UV rays. So wearing sunscreen every time you go out under the sun is a must. And if you are lucky to not have any discoloration on your face, you should take preventive measures now. Although melasma is also caused by hormonal changes, that does not mean that you do not need sunscreen as the UV rays are capable of magnifying your discoloration in the long term.
There are also various treatments that can help to reduce or lighten melasma. Options include chemical peels and laser treatments. Repetitions of treatments depend on the severity of your skin issue, so you should get the right diagnosis and consult with the experts regarding your expectations.
Treatments like chemical peels for instance, work by increasing cellular turnover, which makes old, sun-damaged skin slough off and letting fresh and healthier skin to surface. Laser treatments can help to get rid of cells that cause skin darkening, and can be a really effective treatment.
If you’re curious and interested, we have listed some links down below for your reference. Our affiliated clinics also have doctors with extensive experience in treating skin issues, so you don’t have to worry about booking a treatment with us.