Nonsurgical Treatment Option For Melasma And Facial Discoloration

For women aiming to become mothers, the sad truth is that your precious children are the cause of a lot of physical changes. You are probably anticipating the baggy (sleep deprived) eyes, softened stomach, and a few extra pounds, but did you know about melasma? Melasma is a facial skin disorder that arises due to hormones and sun exposure. It typically strikes expectant women, though all women (and some men) can develop it. Thankfully, there is a nonsurgical treatment option to consider.

Over-the-Counter Treatment Options

You can try to treat your melasma using basic over-the-counter remedies. These creams are safe to use during pregnancy, because they are topically applied to your face. If you try this option first – and avoid yet another trip to the doctor during pregnancy – look for products with at least 2% hydroquinone. These are some options to consider:

  • Hydroquinone Cream
  • Sunscreen with Hydroquinone
  • Bleaching Cream

Melasma Prescription Treatments

While over-the-counter creams work well for some people, they don't work for everyone. These creams may not be strong enough for dark, easily noticeable melasma. However, with a prescription you can purchase a cream containing 4% hydroquinone. These act as bleaches for the skin, so your OB/GYN will have to approve them during pregnancy. Two options to consider are:

  • Hydroquinone Skin Creams
  • Prescription Sunscreen with Hydroquinone

Non-Surgical Laser Treatment Option

If the creams didn't work – or you want to try a more intense treatment from the get-go – then non-ablative laser treatments are also available. Non-ablative laser is also successful in treating other types of facial discoloration. For example, some people use it for age spots or poor skin tone. If you develop melasma during pregnancy, however, keep in mind that this should be considered after you give birth. The laser process works this way:

  • Laser Therapy: The laser used in non-ablative treatment is fractional, meaning it is not as aggressive as other laser treatments. The laser does not affect the exterior part of your skin, but targets its under layers.
  • Anesthesia: Because there is a certain level of discomfort associated with non-ablative laser treatment, local anesthesia is used.
  • Skin Lightens: Skin lightens gradually, but is less likely to be irritated by fractional lasers than other treatments. Laser increases collagen production, which promotes even skin tones.
  • Recovery Time: Recovery time is minimal; most people are able to return to daily activities that day and work the day following treatment.

Side Effects of Melasma Treatment

There are possible side effects associated with each of the detailed treatment options. Side effects are more pronounced the longer you treat your melasma. You might experience these discomforts:

  • Itchy Skin
  • Mild Scarring
  • Reaction to Cream/Anesthesia
  • Temporary Redness of Skin

Melasma Treatment Effectiveness

While each of these treatment options has seen good results, melasma is a disorder that can recur. You may have to try a combination of treatments if your melasma is chronic. Your dermatologist or physician will help you create a treatment schedule so your treatments aren't too close together to cause major irritation, but aren't spread too far apart that your melasma comes back in full. Some things that prevent melasma from fully healing include:

  • Daily Sun Exposure
  • Taking Contraceptives
  • Onset of Menopause and Increase in Hormones

Melasma is a skin discoloration disorder that could affect anyone. Because most women develop it during pregnancy, however, it's comforting to know that most treatment creams are safe to use when expecting. However, for extreme cases, non-ablative fractional lasers can also be used. While there is always a risk of developing side effects with treatment, they tend to be minor and many patients are satisfied with their results. For more information on treating melasma, you can talk to a specialist in medical aesthetics.