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Last Updated: Feb 05, 2020
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Melasma: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

About Symptoms Causes Treatment Side effects Post-treatment guidelines Recovery Cost Results Alternatives

What is the Melasma?

Melasma is a common skin problem that is more prevalent in women. The condition causes dark, discolored patches to appear on the skin..

What are the symptoms of melasma?

Melasma causes patches of discoloration on the skin. The brown or grey-brown patches of melasma appear most often on the cheeks, forehead, nose and chin.

What is the main cause of melasma?

Melasma can be due to hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy or from exposure to sun. Hormones stimulate the growth of cells that make brown pigment (melanocytes) and exposure to sunlight stimulates melanin pigments.

How is melasma treatment done?

Melasma can be cured easily with the application of creams or steroids. The most common melasma therapies include:

  • Application of sunscreen is extremely vital to treat melasma. It is important to apply sunscreen so that it helps to block penetration of sun light and stimulation of pigment formation.
  • Hydroquinone creams: 2% hydroquinone (HQ) creams. Hydroquinone can be found as gels, lotions, or even liquid and is applied on the skin to lighten the skin color.
  • Tretinoin drugs: Tretinoin or a corticosteroid drugs are also prescribed as these have also proven to be effective in skin lightning.
  • Triple cream: A medicine, called triple cream, contains 3 medicines (hydroquinone, tretinoin, and a corticosteroid) in 1 cream.
  • Dermatologist may also prescribe azelaic acid or kojic acid for topical application on the skin to help lighten melasma.
  • Treatments also provide laser therapy, chemical peel, microdermabrasion, dermabrasion or a light-based treatment.

Who is eligible for the treatment?

Melasma is a common disorder found in many people across the world. People with facial skin covered with brown pigments and patches can consult a dermatologist for its treatment.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Appearance of patches on the skin, if caused due to other reasons, like allergy, need to be treated differently. Those patients are not eligible for the treatment of melasma. Also, if the pigments disappear on its own, medical assistance is not required.

Are there any side effects?

Possible side effects of melasma treatments include temporary skin irritation. This may happen because of the individual skin type. However, this fades away as the skin adjusts to the medicines. People who use hydroquinone treatment in very high concentrations for prolonged periods are likely to develop a side effect called exogenous ochronosis. In this condition, the skin actually darkens instead of lightening the skin while the bleaching agent is used.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Avoiding exposure to sun, particularly of the face, is the most important factor after the treatment. Melasma is a chronic disorder with periodic ups and downs. It is important to follow the advices of the dermatologist effectively for best results. Using sunscreen lotions or creams and other accessories like hats, sunglasses or protective masks can reduce the exposure of facial skin to sunlight. Even after the pigmentation clears, the patient must continue with the course until its completion. This is called maintenance therapy that helps prevent melasma from returning.

How long does it take to recover?

Treatment of melasma is a slow process. It takes months for the patches to fade away and the discoloration to normalize. If the dark or brown pigments occur only on some areas, the treatment may take around eight or nine months to cure. But if it spreads over a wide region, covering major part of the face, then it takes even greater time and continuous treatment to disappear.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Treatment of melasma is a time taking process. The creams and steroids need to be applied for a minimum of eight to twelve months before they start to fade away. So, this incurs a cost for the multiple creams and doctor appointments. And, moreover, laser treatment of melasma is an expensive affair. There is a probable need of 3-4 treatments over 3-6 months for the patients. Roughly, the amount may reach up to Rs 50,000.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The outcome of the treatment is usually permanent if proper care and precautions be taken. Removal of pigmentation does not guarantee its longevity. The patches may again appear if the skin is exposed to severe sunlight or if there be some hormonal imbalance. To prevent such, use of sunscreens and protective masks during long outdoor stays under the sunlight is essential.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Melasma can be treated by alternative means. Home made remedies may be helpful to restore the normal skin color and remove the patches. Lemon juice is a natural skin lightener with its astringent properties. The acidic nature of lemon juice also helps to remove the outer layer of the skin, thereby eliminating a layer of the hyperpigmented skin. Apple acid vinegar, turmeric, onion juice can also help to eliminate the patches on the skin. Aloe vera gel, due to the presence of mucilaginous polysaccharides, can alleviate hyperpigmentation and restore the skin’s original color. Other substances can also be used effectively for treating melasma. Apart from this, use of homeopathic treatment and Ayurveda may also be useful to remove hyperpigmentation of the skin.

Popular Questions & Answers

I am 24 year old. I was suffering from melasma since 3 year. Recently I use tretinoin cream. But no improvement in melasma. I also use hydroquinone 2% cream in alternate days. Can I use qtvit tx tablet for melasma.

DNB (Dermatology), Fellowship in Dermatological Laser Surgery, Fellowship In Cosmetic Dermatology, Diploma in Venerology & Dermatology (DVD), MBBS
Dermatologist, Mumbai
Melasma is common skin problem caused by hormonal changes (during pregnancy) or hormonal imbalance, sunlight exposure, etc. Melasma usually occurs on face mainly over cheeks, nose and forehead leaving light brown to bluish pigmentation (depends on...
1 person found this helpful

My face is melasma. My doctor ha advised me for cutisoft cream apply for five days and ban a tan cream. I want to know cutisoft cream is contain steroid and it is dangerous. Can I use this cream.

MBBS, MD - Dermatology
Dermatologist, Gandhinagar
You can use. But only use it as per your doctor's recommendation. Your doctor has seen your condition personally so trust the doctor. For short duration, cutisoft won't have any side effects.

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Content Details
Written By
MD - Ayurveda
Dermatology
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