27 Jun Melasma Can Happen to Men
Melasma is a benign hyperpigmentation condition that is most often linked to women, and is often called the “mask of pregnancy” as expecting mothers are most prone to present with it. However, melasma can also occur in men and at Spectrum Dermatology there’s a suite of treatment options available for men and women. According to Dermatology Times, one of the reasons melasma may occur in male patients is because they tend to not follow best practices for sunscreen application compared to women—and protecting the skin from harmful UV rays is an essential part of preventing any type of hyperpigmentation.
Melasma can happen to any gender or race. However, an article in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology warns that there are different considerations for male patients when treating melasma. Researchers undertook a literature review using Cochrane Library and PubMed articles from the last 20 years. Any studies with conflicting results or deemed to have a “poor design” were removed. The researchers found that there’s no conclusive figures on the global prevalence of melasma, but skin type, ethnicity, and sun exposure analyses all confirmed that melasma occurs most often in those with a Fitzpatrick skin type of IV to VI. Those with Hispanic, African, and Asian heritage were also more prone to melasma.
Of particular interest was the finding that men with more melanin and of African or Asian origin actually suffered from melasma more so than previously thought. The presentation of melasma is similar in men and women, but men seem to be more susceptible to the malar clinical pattern whereas women more often have a centrofacial pattern. Malar pattern refers to hyperpigmentation spreading from cheek to cheek and involving the nasal bridge.
There is no cure for melasma. In some cases the disease is tied to hormonal fluctuations, which is why pregnant women are particularly prone to it. It oftentimes disappears on its own. However, there are options to treat the severity of melasma, including medical-grade topical creams as well as laser skin rejuvenation. In terms of topical creams, a triple combination from a dermatologist is most often recommended for men.
Chemical peels are another option for melasma patients. However, the use of chemical peels to treat any condition should be carefully assessed. Chemical peels are available in light, medium, and deep depths, and work by chemically removing layers of skin. This means a chemical peel at the right depth can potentially remove the melasma (though melasma penetrates into deeper layers than other types of hyperpigmentation). Chemical peels can also permanently lighten the skin of patients with more melanin, and is often only recommended for patients with fairer skin.
Getting Your Melasma Under Control
One of the most effective melasma treatments has proven to be the use of lasers and light therapy. There are various technologies available and the exact laser for you and your melasma presentation will depend on many factors including your skin tone and the severity of the melasma. A few sessions are often required to achieve optimal results. A combination therapy might be necessary and could include medical-grade creams, a chemical peel, and laser skin rejuvenation. The best-personalized treatment can be discussed during your consultation.
While it’s surprising to some that melasma is more prevalent in men than previously thought, unfortunately what’s not so surprising is that men aren’t as strict with their skin care regimens. A lot of men may not seek help for their melasma, and that is a perfectly safe option. However, men who do see their dermatologist for treatment are great candidates for adopting a better and healthier at-home skin routine. The melasma study showed that 49 percent of men reported sun exposure without protection compared to just 24 percent of women.
Protecting your skin from the UV rays is an essential part not only for preventing melasma and other forms of hyperpigmentation, but also to decrease the chances of developing skin cancer. If you have melasma or questions about designing a skin care regimen, call Spectrum Dermatology at (480) 948-8400.