How can I tell the difference between sun damage and Melasma?
Sun damage is usually random and ill-defined around the borders of the spots. Melasma is often very symmetrical with very defined borders. Melasma generally appears in large patches and sun damage is limited to smaller spots.
How is the diagnosis of Melasma made?
A physician usually diagnoses Melasma based upon the appearance of the skin, however, your physician may use a Wood’s Lamp to help with the diagnosis.
What is a Wood’s Lamp?
A Wood’s Lamp is a handheld tool used to diagnose various skin conditions. It uses ultraviolet light to closely look at the skin. The test is done in a dark room, usually in a dermatologist’s office. The lamp is held about 4 to 5 inches away from the area of skin being examined, and will show any skin color changes. These changes are interpreted by a technician and the diagnosis is confirmed.
Do over the counter lightening creams work for Melasma?
Over-the-counter creams contain 2% hydroquinone, a bleaching agent. These are mild creams that are well tolerated by most people and may gradually lighten Melasma over a couple of months. In some cases though, these milder creams may not be very effective. Prescription strength creams containing 4% – 6% hydroquinone are more effective but can have more side effects (redness, peeling, drying).
What SPF is recommended for Melasma?
For those with Melasma, daily use of a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF30 or more is recommended. The sunscreen should contain physical blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to filter out both UV-A and UV-B rays.
Can Melasma be cured?
There is no known cure for Melasma. It’s a chronic condition that develops slowly and can be difficult to treat. The gradual disappearance of dark patches is based on creating the right treatment combination for each individual and consistant protection from further exposure to the sun. Prevention is the best cure!
My Melasma returned – what happened?
If your condition is not responding to treatment, or you had a treatment that worked for a while, but now the condition has returned , it’s possible that you are not adeulately protecting your skin from continued exposure to the sun. Wear protective clothing, including a hat, and apply a sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide every time you go outdoors to prevent the return, or persistence, of Melasma.
American Academy of Dermatology; Dermatology A-Z, Melasma.
National Center for Biotechnology Information; U.S. National Library of Medicine; Melasma
Definition: Hydroquinone (bellasugar.com)