Dark spots or melasma? Can you tell the difference?
Well you should know the difference because the treatment to eliminate them can be quite different.
Melasma looks like a dark band across the face. Areas commonly affected include the forehead, cheeks, and upper lip.
Melasma is hormonal dependent and often appears in some women of childbearing age. Melasma can be made worse by the sun and by small skin traumas such as waxing.
Dark pigments, on the other hand, look just like dark spots. They can be as small as a tiny dot, or as large as a quarter. Their color varies as well, from light brown to a deeper color.
Dark pigments can appear in any body area, although they are more common in areas exposed to the sun, for example. the face, neck, chest, and the back of the hands.
Melasma can be difficult to eliminate. It is important to stay away from any lasers or treatments that involve intense heat, as these can exacerbate the condition.
Melasma responds well to chemical peels, especially the new generation peels that use a combination of different chemicals such as: lactic, TCA, glycolic, hydroquinone. These peels are gentle to the skin yet very effective. Depending on the skin condition and ethnicity, multiple peels are needed for best results. A series of three peels performed six weeks apart can greatly improve the color and texture of the skin.
Sun avoidance is a must!
Dark pigmentations are not heat sensitive. That means laser light is the ideal treatment. I use IPL in my practice with excellent results.
Chemical peels can be performed as well and in some cases I like the combination of both treatments. Usually I perform a chemical peel first followed by a series of IPL.
Using a physical sun block of at least SPF30 will protect the skin from new pigmentations and will keep the old ones under control. If you have existing sun damage and would like skin care products to work in combination with your medical treatments, I recommend these.
Knowledge is power. The more you know, the healthier and younger your skin will be.
Love your skin.