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Senior Citizens’ Usual Problem Melasma, Its Facts and Prevention

Melasma is commonly noticed in ages 20 to 50 years. Melasma can be identified by three places on our face – our central face, cheekbones and around the jawline. It is caused by sun damage or if you have a genetic predisposition or have hormonal changes.  I can be treated with topical ointments like hydroquinone if prescribed by doctors.

There are four types of melasma and four types of pigmentation patterns in melasma:

Epidermal melasma – when there is excess melanin in certain parts of the skin
Dermal melasma- It refers to the presence of melanophores in the dermis.
Mixed melasma – is a mixture of both the epidermal and dermal type.
Excess melanocytes- this melasma is usually present in dark-skinned individuals.

However, there are ways of preventing it, as listed below:

Avoid the sun
The worst way you can trigger your melasma is by staying under the sun. Ultraviolet is its worst enemy, which can act on specific cells in your skin. It can increase melanin production—most people with melasma. Melasma is often seen in people who have a history of sun exposure and intermittent sun exposure. The heat can also be a factor. Lower your external sun exposure, and a good sunscreen with hydroquinone is Obagi’s Sunfader sunscreen.

Use of hydroquinone
People suffering from melasma usually use hydroquinone (HQ). A concentration of above 2% requires a prescription and should be given by a physician. HQ can be effective in lightening the darker skin areas. But concentrations above that could be not very pleasant.

Is your melasma due to pregnancy or hormonal changes?
Pregnancy can also lead to discolouration or due to birth control pills. Sometimes if someone is on hormone therapy, that discontinuation can also lead to melasma. To treat such melasma, you need to use a combination of formulated creams with hydroquinone, azelaic acid and retinoic acid, and kojic acid might be prescribed.

Beware of possible side effects.
Even if you treat your melasma, you need to make sure that you are not overdoing it. There will be temporary skin irritation, and prolonged usage can cause a side effect called exogenous ochronosis. It darkens the skin even further, and this could be permanent; hence, we must not apply the HQ of a concentration of above 4%.

Microdermabrasion
Microdermabrasion uses vacuum suction and abrasive material such as aluminium oxide crystals to exfoliate the top layers of the skin. Based on your skin sensitivity, the pressure is adjusted. These sessions can last from a few minutes to a few hours. The good thing is that the recovery time needed after microdermabrasion is significantly less.

Melasma is a medical condition and should be adequately treated with care. It requires a lot of effort, time and money to reverse; hence it’s better to prevent than to be sorry. You can even purchase melasma friendly sunglasses.

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