Melasma appears as brown or gray-brown patches on the face, appearing most often on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin, and the upper lip. It also can appear on other parts of the body such as the forearms and neck.
While there are a number of things that can trigger Melasma, such as hormonal changes from birth control pills, pregnancy, genetics, and certain medications, by far the biggest trigger of Melasma is sun exposure. The ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun stimulates the melanocytes (cells in our bodies responsible for producing pigment in the skin). Sun exposure is why Melasma is often worse in summer and it’s the main reason why, for many people, Melasma is a recurring condition. Given that, if you suffer from Melasma, the importance of proper sun protection cannot be overstated.
Proper Sun Protection
It’s possible that during the winter months, the signs and symptoms of Melasma disappear or fade – that’s due to the protective clothing and lack of sunshine. Now that Spring is here and Summer is just around the corner, it’s time to get ready for the outdoors and exposure to the sun – Melasma’s worst enemy.
Try this multi-layered approach for the best protection:
- Apply sunscreen every day – even if you are not in the sun. That’s because the UV rays can penetrate through clouds and windows to touch the skin.
- Be sure to use a sunscreen that offers these 3 things:
- Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays).
- A sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more.
- Zinc oxide or titanium oxide to physically block the sun’s rays.
- Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside. Then reapply every 20 minutes or immediately after swimming or getting wet.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
- Wear protective clothing. Once considered a specialty item, sun protective swimwear, outerwear, hats, umbrellas and more, by companies like Coolibar, SunGrubbies, Orvis, Columbia and Patagonia, (to name just a few) create clothing and accessories that block up to 95% of UV rays. Fabrics are uniquely designed to keep you cool and protected at the same time and are highly recommended by Dermatologists and the Skin Cancer Foundation.
- Use an UV reflecting/protecting umbrella – Titanium umbrellas reflect UV rays from above and protect you from reflective rays from the underside as well. Many UV protective umbrellas are rated UPF 50 or more.
The bottom line is, if you suffer from Melasma, and you want to maintain an even skintone, protecting your skin from the sun is the first line of defense. For more in formation on Melasma and sun protection and sun exposure, read our related articles below.
- Sunscreen: New Guidelines this Summer (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- 6 Ways to Treat Sun Spots (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Sun Poisoning: What Are The Lasting Effects? (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Melasma (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Frequently Asked Questions About Melasma (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Uneven Skin Tone (healthyskinsolutions.com)