Is Melasma Hyperpigmentation?

Is Melasma Hyperpigmentation? | Spectrum Dermatology, Scottsdale, Phoenix

Is Melasma Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation and melasma are often terms used interchangeably. There are many types of hyperpigmentation, and melasma is one that impacts over five million Americans. This pigmentary condition mostly affects women, and like “general hyperpigmentation” it can appear anywhere on the skin as gray or dark patches. It worsens with sun exposure, but that’s where the similarities end.

What Is Hyperpigmentation

The term “hyperpigmentation” means any darkening of the skin. It can include acne scarring, freckles that become sunspots, or side effects of psoriasis or eczema. The definition is in the name: Hyper (excessive) pigmentation (skin coloring). Many factors, from sunlight to rashes, can kick-start melanocytes–the cells that make pigment in the skin. The deeper the pigment is in the skin, the more difficult it is to treat. This is why hyperpigmentation from years of sun exposure will be more challenging to treat than darkening from an acne breakout.

What Is Melasma

Melasma is considered a type of hyperpigmentation because of its severity and difficulty to treat. Both UV exposure and hormones exacerbate melasma. The hormone factor is why it is much more common in women, and what makes it more difficult to treat. Using oral contraceptives, pregnancy, and medications for various hormonal therapies can all trigger melasma.

Melasma can often be identified by a dermatologist solely on appearance. It is a blotchy patch most commonly found on the face. Technically, melasma can also occur on other parts of the body, but it’s rare. Since UV exposure triggers melasma, it is not surprising that most outbreaks occur in the summer and on areas of the body exposed to the sun. Hormonal influences also make this ailment common during and post-pregnancy or after changing hormonal or birth control medications.

Sometimes exposure to visible light and heat can also trigger melasma. Those with a history of melasma should avoid infrared heat and hot environments like saunas. Treatment for melasma varies, and what works for one patient may not work for another. Brightening products, laser treatments, chemical peels, and starting a sunscreen regimen are usually the first steps. Get help for your melasma today by calling Spectrum Dermatology at 480-948-8400.