Melasma And Me

By Susie

  • If you’ve noticed brown to gray-brown spots on your face that look bigger than your regular sun spots, get them checked out for melasma
  • No need to freak out, melasma is mostly just a scarier word for hyperpigmentation and I was recently diagnosed with it
  • I’m adapting my skincare routine to accommodate melasma 

Recently I went to my dermatologist to get a consultation on switching my skincare products.  I loved the serums and lotions she has recommend in the past but lately my skin had started to look ruddy.  I was wondering if it had something to do with those products.  While she was examining my skin, she identified some dark spots on my face.  It was the spots that were making my skin look less healthy and giving it that ruddy appearance.  She didn’t remember seeing them before.  She compared them to old pictures she had of me and confirmed her suspicions - they were not there before.  I was diagnosed with melasma. 

I freaked out.  I had never heard this scary word before and it’s never nice to actually get diagnosed with something.  Luckily, turns out it’s mostly just a scarier word for hyperpigmentation.

Melasma is a relatively common skin problem in women. It causes brown to gray-brown patches, usually on the face where you’re exposed to a lot of sun. You can get it on your cheeks, nose, forehead, chin, and above your upper lip area.  It can also happen on other parts of the body that get lots of sun, like your forearms or the neck.  If you’ve noticed spots on your face or body that look bigger than your regular sun spots, you might want to get them checked out.

I learned through further conversations with my dermatologist that it can be caused by hormonal changes, and unfortunately there is no one cure.  There are treatments to make it look better and it’s important to choose the right one.  She told me some laser treatments could actually make it worse which was good to know since I had made an appointment at a Korean spa for another laser treatment.  If treated incorrectly, the damage to the skin can cause it to rebound and create more darkness and pigment.

She recommended a hydroquinone cream to use on the spots with the directions the cream should only be used two months at a time.  That set off some alarms in my head – do I really want to use something so strong that there is a limit of how long I should be exposed to it?  I did some research and didn’t like what I read so I stopped using it.

Currently I’m using a daily exfoliant.  It doesn’t seem to be making much difference so I’m going to try a laser treatment next.  The dermatologist told me she would need to use one laser for my skin but a different one on the melasma spots so as not to make them darker.  If the laser works, I’ll want to maintain the results so I might need to adjust my skincare routine – it really is a continuous wellness journey.

The last thing I want to do is get in the habit of having to cover the spots with heavy makeup.  I broke free from foundation and am not looking to go back.  I’m confident that I’ll be able to adapt my skincare routine to accommodate my new skincare challenges and will keep you posted on my melasma journey.