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 usually very symmetrical with very defined borders. Melasma tends to happen in large patches and sun damage more so in smaller spots.
How is the diagnosis of Melasma made?
A physician can usually diagnose Melasma based upon the appearance of your skin. Your physician may want to examine your skin with 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 4 to 5 inches from the area of skin being studied, 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 usually well tolerated and may gradually lighten Melasma over a couple of months. However, in some cases, they 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?
If you have Melasma, or want to prevent it, a daily sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 is recommended to block UV rays. The sunscreen should contain physical blockers, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Other chemical blockers may not fully block both types of UV-A and UV-B as effectively as zinc or titanium.
Can Melasma be cured?
There is no known cure for Melasma. Melasma is a chronic condition that develops slowly and so it tends to clear slowly. The gradual disappearance of dark spots is based on establishing the right treatment combination for each individual.
My Melasma returned – what happened?
If Melasma is not responding to treatment, or you had a treatment that worked for a while, but now the condition has returned – it is possible that you are not avoiding exposure to the sun. Wear protective clothing, 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.
Definition: Hydroquinone (bellasugar.com)
American Academy of Dermatology; Dermatology A-Z, Melasma.
National Center for Biotechnology Information; U.S. National Library of Medicine; Melasma