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Melasma is a skin problem that is most common in women 20-50 years of age. It causes brown to gray-brown patches on the face. Most people get it on their cheeks, bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, and above their upper lip. It also can appear on other parts of the body that get lots of sun, such as the forearms and neck.
Women are far more likely than men to get melasma. It is so common during pregnancy that some people call it the mask of pregnancy. Hormones seem to trigger melasma.
If you have melasma, the following tips from the American Academy of Dermatology are recommended for achieving a more even skin tone
Wear sunscreen daily One of the most common treatments for melasma is sun protection. Since sunlight triggers melasma, it is important to wear sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days and after swimming or sweating.
Choose a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more, and zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide to physically limit the effects of the sun's rays on your skin. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside and reapply at least every two hours.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat when you're outside As a recent study in the journal Nature illustrates, sunscreen alone may not give you the sun protection you need. Whenever possible, seek shade and wear protective clothing in addition to applying sunscreen.
Choose gentle skin care products Choose skin care products that don't sting or burn, as products that irritate the skin may worsen melasma.
Avoid waxing Waxing may cause skin inflammation which can worsen melasma, so it's important to avoid waxing areas of the body affected by the condition. Ask a dermatologist about other types of hair removal that may be right for you.
If your melasma does not go away, it is recommended that you visit a dermatologist to discuss available treatments for melasma, such as prescription medications or in-office procedures. Under a dermatologist's care, many people with melasma have positive outcomes.
Melasma can be stubborn, though. It may take a few months of treatment to see improvement. It is important to follow your dermatologist's advice.
This ensures that you get the most benefit from treatment. It also can help avoid skin irritation and other side effects.