Melasma is one of those semi-nebulous skin conditions where we have a rough idea of what is going on, but the circumstances are complex and difficult to fully pin down. It is the technical name for a form of hyper pigmentation that is most commonly found among women of Latin or Asian descent. The skintone of women and others who might end up with melasma is the most important trait. People with olive or copper toned skin tend to have the highest incidence of melasma. Most of the time you can guard against it with appropriate sun protection, but sometimes it sneaks by for one reason or another. This is sometimes due to particular drugs and other products actually further increasing the sensitivity of the skin and causing it to produce melanin more readily. There are a few broad classes of drugs that can make this more likely. Let’s take a quick look at each of them.
Birth Control and Hormone Therapy
Melasma comes in few forms, but the most common one is typically the result of pregnancy. The large hormonal shifts going on in the body seem to trigger a certain degree of sensitivity in the skin even more readily. It therefore comes as no surprise that drugs that interact with our hormones can also lead to melasma. Birth control in particular has been noted to raise the likelihood of melasma in some women for the duration of them taking it. This is still frequently tied deeply to ethnic background though. Some doctors have also observed that hormone replacement therapy in some people can likewise increase the chance of melasma occurring. It is most frequently in women and others with estrogen dominant bodies. Hormone therapy involving the administration of progesterone appears to be the primary culprit in this case. These are far from the only medical treatments that can raise the likelihood of melasma though.
In keeping with what we’ve already discussed, there are other treatments that affect our hormones too. Anything that involves treating our thyroid gland or the ovaries will frequently also increase the risk of melasma. This is also tied directly towards affecting our hormone levels. It is difficult to highlight any single medication or treatment that can cause the issue in this case. In both cases we’re dealing with parts of the body deeply tied into our hormone levels and even minor adjustments to them can end up affecting a lot more of the body than intended. This makes it especially frustrating for anyone who is trying to avoid melasma. Most of the time we’re going to need to keep taking whatever drugs our doctor has given us for treating those areas to ensure our broader health. It leads to a situation where our best option is to maintain preventive care by wearing sunscreen and staying out of the sun. This isn’t terribly reassuring, but there are some products that we can avoid that can also increase the risk for melasma.
The last thing that most professionals note is that both prescription and over the counter skincare products can end up causing melasma as well. There are two key elements to this though. One of them is that harsher products tend to have the most impact. These irritate the skin and are more likely to cause the kinds of reactions that lead to melasma manifesting. You simply need to make sure that you’re using gentler products to avoid accidentally contributing to irritation that causes the skin to produce more melanin. However, the worst boost to melasma comes from the use of photoreactive products. These products react to being exposed to sunlight. Some products like this can create a somewhat toxic reaction that ends up permanently harming the skin in an area and causing melasma to begin to work as the skin moves to defend itself. We recommend making sure to read any warnings attached to the products you use to make sure none of them, like retinol, tell you to stay out of the sun while using them. This will further minimize your chances of experiencing melasma.
While melasma is a more or less harmless darkening of a patch of skin, it can still lower our overall confidence in our appearance. It is a disruption to how we think we should look and disrupts the smooth flow of a mostly unbroken skintone. We recommend ensuring that you do your best to follow these tips if you’re of Asian or Latin descent with the earlier described skin tones. This will hopefully help prevent you from experiencing melasma or at the very least will reduce the severity of any insistence that does occur.