Melasma Treatment

Melasma Treatment


Melasma, also called ‘chloasma’, is a common skin condition in adults in which light to dark brown or greyish pigmentation develops, mainly on the face. Although it can affect both genders and any race, it is more common in women and people with darker skin-types who live in sunny climates. Melasma usually becomes more noticeable in the summer and improves during the winter months. It is not an infection, is not contagious, and is not due to an allergy. Also, it is not cancerous and will not develop into skin cancer.

Melasma treatments fall into the following categories:

  • Avoiding known trigger factors, such as the oral contraceptive pill or perfumed cosmetics
  • Adopting appropriate sun avoidance measures and using sun-blocking cream
  • Skin-lightening agent
  • Chemical peels, dermabrasion, and laser treatment
  • Skin camouflage
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Skin affected by melasma darkens more than the surrounding skin with exposure to sunlight, so sun-avoidance and sun-protection are important. Broad-spectrum sunscreens (SPF 30 or HIGHER) and a high ultraviolet A (UVA) star-rating (4 or 5 UVA stars) should be applied daily throughout the year, and broad-brimmed hats are recommended. In particular, avoidance and protection measures should be employed during the period of most intense sunshine. Sun-beds should be avoided.

Certain chemicals can reduce the activity of pigment-forming cells in the skin, and of these, hydroquinone is the most commonly used. Hydroquinone creams may cause irritation, and prolonged use can cause excessive skin lightening. Rarely, hydroquinone can cause increased darkening of the skin in very dark-skinned people. Hydroquinone creams can now only be prescribed by doctors. Azelaic acid and retinoid creams are mainly marketed to treat acne but can also help melasma.

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At the Cedars Dermatology Clinic in Northwood & Harley Street, we draw deeply from the consultation process. Our expert clinicians will listen carefully to understand your skin concerns and aesthetic and medical goals.

  • Your medical history is taken into account
  • We thoroughly assess your skin
  • We listen well to understand your concerns and goals
  • We draw up a personalised treatment plan
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5 star experience

“I have been looked after by Dr Anjali Mahto on a number of occasions and I cannot fault the level of care she provides. She takes time to understand the result you want to achieve and is very gentle. I’m a bit nervous with needles around my mouth (bad dentist experience) but she spotted my anxiety immediately, stopped and then talked me through until I was ready to carry on again. A really really great Dermatologist and I would highly recommend her.”

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FAQs about Melasma Treatment

Skin-lightening creams can be effective but also have the potential to irritate the skin and are therefore sometimes combined with steroid creams. Some skin-bleaching creams contain a mixture of these ingredients.

Both treatments can improve melasma by removing the cells of the epidermis which contain the excess pigment. These techniques should be undertaken by an experienced person as they have the potential to worsen the pigmentation, to make the skin too light, or can cause scarring.

Some types of laser also remove the outer layer of skin, whereas others specifically target the pigment-producing cells. At present, the success of laser treatment is variable, and the possible side effects can be similar to peels and micro-dermabrasion. These treatments are usually not available as NHS procedures.

Skin camouflage is a special make-up which is matched to the skin colour of the individual and will not easily come off. Your general practitioner or dermatologist may refer you to somebody with skin camouflage experience to assist you in finding the right product and to teach you how to apply it. This service is provided by Changing Faces, Skin Camouflage Services, and individual practitioners.

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