Hyperpigmentation and Melasma – Causes & Treatment

Hyperpigmentation and Melasma are both skin pigmentation diseases that usually affect our face. Both are similar but very different. Melasma is a type of Hyperpigmentation. Here, both are two sides of the same coin. To erase the difference, let's understand them separately.

Hyperpigmentation

The darkening of a certain area due to the surplus production of melanin (responsible for skin color) is called Hyperpigmentation. There are several types: freckles, sun spots, liver spots, pregnancy masks etc.

Causes

There are multiple causes and situations where hyperpigmentation appears due to inflammations & acne, it is called Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH). Some causes include:

Overexposure to sun
Skin injuries
Cauterization
Skin products
Medication like anti-seizure drugs and antibiotics

Treatment

The good news is that the disease is treatable. There are multiple methods to help get rid of skin pigmentation.

Topical Agent – Using topical agents like Kojic, azelaic or mandelic acids helps a lot as these use alpha hydroxy acids that rejuvenate the skin.

Laser peel – CO2 and fractional lasers are used to resurface the skin over the spots.

Sunscreen – As a simple measure, wearing sunscreen is a must to avoid further pigmentations. It should be of broad spectrum (that blocks UVB and UVA).

Intense pulsed light (IPL) – A non-surgical treatment that makes use of specific light wavelengths to target darker skin.

Skin lighting creams – These creams are a combination of soy milk, calcium, hydroquinone, cucumber and azelaic acid that slow melanin production.

Natural Ways – Using products like lemon juice, Aloe Vera, sliced ​​cucumber, turmeric and raw potato over the darkened areas will definitely help you.

Melasma

Melasma is another type of pigmentation on face appearing mostly in women. Also called pregnancy masks, it is characterized by brown spots, dark discolorations that appear in symmetry. They can also appear in forehead and upper lip.

Causes

A fact about Melasma is that there is no exact known cause. The most well-known prediction is the triggering of hormones like progesterone, estrogen, birth control pills & medicines. These are what a pregnant woman experiences thereby making it more susceptible to females (over 90% female cases).

Other general causes include:

UV light exposure
Might be hereditary
Cosmetics irritating skin
Stress (to some level)

Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Melasma and treatment is much more difficult than Hyperpigmentation. If induced during pregnancy, there is no need for treatment. The dark spots vanish automatically with time.

Other treatments include:

Hydroquinone cream – On advice of the doctor you should use some creams with hydroquinone which lightens skin helping the spots to ever fade.

Relaxing – Lower stress levels and activities like yoga, meditation and walks could significantly decrease Melasma.

Topical steroids – Go ahead for medicines having items like Kojic acid, paper mulberry, peel extract, lactic acid, bearberry etc which are chemicals applied on skin.

Chemical peel – A process where the top layer of skin peels off due to a solution applied over skin.

Fraxel – Those with scars & wrinkles can undergo this treatment. It's effective in treating superficial Melasma.