There are many people who live with melasma. It usually affects women between their 20's and 50's. It is very rare for men to develop melasma. It affects only about 10% of men.

What Is Melasma?

Melasma is a skin disorder that causes patchy brown, tan or even grayish skin spots. These spots usually occur on the face. Melasma usually affects women during their reproductive years. Some additional factors that may cause this condition to worsen are too much sun exposure without sunscreen, hormonal changes, birth control pills and pregnancy. Melasma most commonly affects the facial area, making it easier to see and harder to cover up.

Treatments for Melasma

Living with melasma can be devastating for some since it most commonly affects the face. There are treatments available to lighten the skin discolorations. There are some cases when the melasma will lighten up on its own. This can happen by taking extra precautions. Limiting sun exposure, wearing sunscreen, or discontinuing birth control pills are some ways it may clear up. If you still suffer from melasma, there are some treatments you may want to try.

Over the Counter and Prescription Creams

There are a number of over the counter creams available to lighten the dark spots. Most of these creams contain Azelaic acid, Retinoic acid, Tazarotene, Kojic acid and more. These creams may cause few side effects such as skin irritations or lightening the skin too much.

Chemical Peels

Chemical Peels are available at a dermatologists office. Chemical peels are performed by trained professionals. A chemical solution is placed on the skin. The chemicals then make the skin blister. After the blistered skin peels off, it leaves a new layer of rejuvenated skin.

Microdermabrasion 

Microderabrasion is performed by a dermatologist, and there are now kits that you can buy and perform the procedure at home. They use an abrasive agent to remove the damaged layers of skin. This is a noninvasive treatment and requires no downtime. There are only few side effects of microdermabrasion. Multiple treatments may be needed to get the results desired.

Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy may be used to remove the dark spots. Cryotherapy is performed by a dermatologist. The procedure consists of freezing the pigmented cells off. After the cells have been frozen, they will peel off leaving new skin without the pigmentation. There is a small chance that the discoloration will return, but this only occurs less than 10% of the time. Side effects of cryotherapy include inflammation and redness of the area, but this only last for a short time.

Prevention

The best cure for melasma is to prevent it. While this is not always possible, there are ways to try to prevent it from developing. While out in the sun, always wear sunscreen, preferably one with an SPF of 50. Try to avoid the sun as much as possible if you start to notice changes in your skin. Once the melanin in the skin starts to change, the risks are greater for developing skin cancer.

It may be difficult to live with melasma. There are treatments for melasma so you do not have to live it. Talk to your doctor to see if a treatment will work for you.