Melasma is a hyperpigmentation of the skin, characterized by the formation of dark brown or grayish-brown spots, with well-defined limits, of irregular shape. This characteristic often has a negative impact on the self-esteem and quality of life of people with the disorder.
These spots result from the increased deposition of melanin, a protein that guarantees skin color and prevents DNA damage from ultraviolet radiation. Although they are preferentially located on the face, in the region of the cheekbones, forehead, upper lip, chin and temples, the lesions can also appear on the neck and forearms. The size of the spots can vary greatly. In some cases, these spots cover the entire face.
Melasma is a chronic and relapsing condition, that is, it is a disorder that repeats itself. It appears more frequently in women who are in their reproductive phase, between 20 and 50 years old, than in men (only ten percent are affected). It is rare to manifest before puberty.
People with dark skin tones in darker tones are more vulnerable, such as Africans, Afro-descendants, those of Arab descent, Asians and Hispanics, who, by nature, produce more melanin, since they have more active melanocytes.
It is not uncommon for the unsightly aspect of lesions to serve as an obstacle to social and affective relationships. The change in the appearance of the skin even interferes with professional performance and many people end up moving away from the environments they used to attend, running away from friends.
The classification of melasma
Based on the distribution of melanin in the darkened spot, melasma can be classified into three types. The epidermis, in which the melanin deposit is concentrated in the epidermis, the protective and superficial layer of the skin, in direct contact with the outside world.
The dermal, as its name suggests, is found in the dermis, the intermediate layer of the skin, composed of various tissues, such as blood vessels, sebaceous and sweat glands and nerve endings. There is also mixed melasma, that is, when melanin affects both the dermis and the epidermis.
Risk factors for the onset of melasma
Being a woman of reproductive age and having a darker skin tone — phototype III and IV — determined by genetic inheritance are important risk factors for the appearance of melasma. Exposure to ultraviolet rays also contributes to this, which stimulate the activity of melanocytes, the cells responsible for the production of melanin and, therefore, its accumulation in the tissues.
And, in fact, it’s not just that. Several recent studies also show that the visible light spectrum causes an increase in the pigmentation characteristic of melasma, in addition to altering collagen fibers, leading to skin aging. This visible light corresponds to a form of radiation emitted by the sun and also present in television sets, mobile phones and artificial lights.
Pregnancy, medication such as antibiotics or birth control pills, vitamin deficiency, stress, lack of sleep, thyroid dysfunction, and the use of irritating cosmetics or medications for hypertension or epilepsy can lead to the appearance of melasma on the skin.
Types of melasma on the face according to the affected area
When pigmentation appears in the central regions of the forehead, supra labial and chin (forehead, cheeks, nose, upper lip and chin), it is a central facial melasma. This is the most common.
When melasma affects the zygomatic areas, popularly known as “cheekbones”, it is called malar melasma. It is characterized, therefore, by the darkening of the cheeks and nose. In mandibular melasma, the affected regions are the lips and chin.
Possible forms of treatment
To help with stain removal, advanced aesthetic treatments suggest many options. Our objective, of course, is to offer the best result, and therefore, we select the most innovative methods, with the greatest potential for satisfaction when it comes to treating melasma.
Among them is microneedling. This technique helps to lighten the blemishes on the skin. Fine, metallic needles are used to make micro-perforations in the skin in order to stimulate the function of fibroblasts, the cells responsible for collagen production. In this way, photoaging and the presence of scars and blemishes, such as melasma, are softened.
When we talk about microneedling with drug delivery, the whitening potential becomes even more powerful. This second technique means, by definition, “delivery of assets”, and consists of associating the perforations with the application of some product, such as an acid, ensuring that the substance reaches the exact location of the treatment.
Deep melasma affects the dermis and varies in intensity, according to the pigmentary characteristics of each patient. The treatment mentioned above can be efficient to treat it, but it is important that a professional evaluates to find the best solution for each case. At Unic Clinic you can schedule your free evaluation consultation.