Treating Melasma, The Mask of Pregnancy
While cosmetic lasers are so effective at treating cosmetic dermatological issues, one condition that even they have trouble with is Melasma, a symptom of pregnancy. Dr. Schultz explains why it's caused and how to treat it.Read Transcript
Hello, I'm Dr. Neal Schultz and welcome to DermTV.
Melasma, or the mask of pregnancy, is a tan or brown blotchy discoloration of the forehead, below the eyes, sort of like in the distribution of a mask, and it also occurs along the upper lip in a horizontal band. It is very, very difficult to treat and so difficult, that even my cosmetic lasers don't help melasma. It's caused by sensitivity of the normal pigment cells but only in this distribution, a sensitivity of those pigment cells to normal female estrogens. As a result of that, it usually starts either during pregnancy or even when women have just started a new birth control pill. Since my cosmetic lasers don't fix it, the only way that we really can help it and lighten the discoloration is with topical preparations containing exfoliants and bleaches but, even if you do help it with those products, unless you're using very, very effective sunscreen, the color is just going to come right back, because sunlight on these hypersensitive pigment cells will make them make more brown discoloration. So skin care products that have either glycolic or salicylic acid combined with bleaches is the best way to reduce this pigmentation gradually. If it doesn't work with your products, see a dermatologist who can do glycolic peels or even salicylic acid peels, none of which have any downtime but which, coupled with topical bleaches, will cause a reduction in this annoying brown discoloration.