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Melasma is a condition that causes the skin to bear a patchy appearance with dark and discoloured segments. It is also commonly known as chloasma when it is found in pregnant women. This is a condition that can be found in women more commonly than it is found in men. Let us cast a glance on the symptoms, causes, as well as the ways of identifying and treating this condition.
- Identifying Melasma: There are many symptoms with which one can identify and recognise Melasma. These include brownish coloured patches that may appear on the cheeks, forehead, chin and even the bridge of the nose. These patches will usually be much darker than the actual skin colour of the patient, which makes them stand out even more prominently. One will generally see these symmetrical patches on either sides of the face and other parts of the body that are left exposed to the Sun for prolonged hours, on a regular basis. These symptoms can help you in identifying the condition, in which case you must immediately see a dermatologist who will help in formal diagnosis and immediate treatment.
- Causes: The causes of Melasma are unknown so far. Sensitivity to estrogen and progesterone are also considered as the cause behind the advent of this skin condition, especially during menopause and for women who regularly take birth control and other hormonal pills for any other ailment. Constant exposure to the Sun can also alter the cells that create and control one's pigment also known as melanocytes.
- Diagnosis: The diagnosis of Melasma is done with the help of a physical examination that will study the area that has been affected. Thereafter, the doctor may perform the wood's lamp examination where a light is held up against the skin so that the doctor can check the depth of the skin that has been affected. A biopsy may be conducted for more severe cases by taking a small portion of skin tissue and examining under the microscope.
- Treatment: Most women report that Melasma disappears on its own. These patches slowly fade after delivery, or once the birth control pills and hormonal therapy stop. One needs to use a good sunscreen at all times of the day. A light makeup helps to camouflage the condition. The dermatologist can also ask you to use certain medicated creams that can help in fading the patches to a great extent. Also, chemical peels and dermabrasion are other mild procedures that can be carried out in such cases, to exfoliate the top layer of the skin. Q switched laser helps to treat the resistant dermal melasma cases. One must remember that these ointments and procedures do not guarantee that the condition will not recur in the future. In several patients, Melasma needs maintenance treatment to prevent recurrence.