Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation typically characterized by brown or gray discoloration of the face. It is commonly found in women with darker skin types, though men and women of all races may be affected, according to the British Association of Dermatologists. While the exact cause of melasma is unknown, the condition is commonly associated with hormone fluctuations triggered by pregnancy, oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy.
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There is no cure for melasma. After giving birth or stopping hormone therapy, the condition may fade on its own. When dealing with persistent brown hormonal spots, however, Dr. Audrey Kunin, author of the “Dermadoctor Skinstruction Manual,” recommends following a regimen of sun protection, exfoliation and bleaching.
Select a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. When exposed to sunlight, hyperpigmented skin gets darker than surrounding areas. This makes sun protection crucial to the reduction of melasma.
Wear sunscreen throughout the day. According to Dermis, a website associated with the University of Heidelberg, you should apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every few hours.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat to further protect your face from harmful UV rays.
Wash and dry your face.
Apply a lotion containing glycolic acid all over your face. According to the “Dermadoctor Skinstruction Manual,” glycolic acid is a mild chemical exfoliant that treats melasma by “removing superficial pigmented skin cells and easing the penetration of bleaching agents.”
Wait 20 minutes, then apply a small amount of 2 percent hydroquinone cream to melasma-affected skin. Hydroquinone is a bleaching agent; over time, it fades hyperpigmentation by stopping melanin production.
Wash hands thoroughly, then apply sunscreen.