How to Prevent Melasma

Melasma is a benign problem that causes no symptoms other than aesthetic alterations. However, it's advisable to use sunscreen both to prevent it and to stop it from getting wrose.
How to Prevent Melasma

Last update: 20 June, 2021

Knowing how to prevent melasma is a topic that may interest many of our readers. Melasma (formerly known as chloasma) is a very common condition. It largely affects women from the age of 20 onwards. It consists of the appearance of brown spots on exposed areas of the skin, especially on the face (cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin).

It’s caused by various endogenous and exogenous factors, many of which can be avoided through healthy habits. In fact, the prevention of this skin problem is largely based on avoiding these aspects that can trigger the disease. How can we do this?

Preventing melasma: knowledge is key

As detailed in a publication by the American Academy of Dermatology, melasma doesn’t cause symptoms per se, but it does produce skin alterations that can be uncomfortable from an aesthetic point of view. However, in order to be able to intervene, we should first establish its origin. Let’s look at its main causes and how to prevent it.

Genetics

Genetic predisposition is a determining factor in the appearance of melasma. People who have a blood relative who has had this issue are more likely to get it themselves. In these cases, it’s not possible to intervene, but basic skincare from an early age can help.

Sun exposure

A woman putting on sunscreen
Regular application of sunscreen is one of the most effective measures to reduce the risk of melasma.

It’s essential to use sun protection measures to prevent this skin alteration from occurring (or to prevent its reappearance once treated). In everyday situations such as walking, shopping, or simply walking on public roads, a large amount of ultraviolet radiation is received.

This exposure is enough to cause melasma, accelerate skin aging or increase the likelihood of developing a variant of skin carcinoma. If the person doesn’t use photoprotective creams used once melasma has developed, the chances of it becoming resistant to treatment and becoming chronic are very high.

Photoprotection against melasma

For this reason, experts recommend the daily use of photoprotection creams, if possible with sunscreen higher than 50. You should apply them about 20 or 30 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply every 4 hours to maintain the protective effect.

In cases of friction or sweating, or after swimming, reapply before the recommended 4 hours. Compact sunscreen foundations are the most recommended due to their great coverage.

These sunscreens should be combined with physical protection measures. We can use make use of caps or hats, sunglasses with UV filters or simply stay in the shade.

Hormonal causes

The hormonal factor is evidenced by the appearance of melasma during pregnancy (progesterone levels), the use of oral contraceptives (estrogen levels) and finasteride in men. This is why many people call it the “pregnancy mask” or “chloasma gravidarum”.

Sometimes it goes away when the causative medication is discontinued. The ideal thing in these cases is to further intensify photoprotection methods to avoid the different causes.

Using irritating cosmetics

A woman putting on face cream
Some cosmetics or skin creams can irritate the skin. If so, it’s essential to discontinue their use.

When we detect that make-up or cream causes an irritative or allergic process, it’s always best to avoid it from that moment on. Many cosmetics can activate when exposed to the sun.

We must also avoid sunbathing after using products containing perfumes (especially bergamot oil and musk) and halogenated salicylanilides (common in soaps and deodorants).

Stress

To date, there’s no evidence that stress can cause melasma. However, scientists believe that too much stress can worsen existing melasma, making it more difficult to treat. This is because stress is related to an overproduction of melanophores, which are skin cells with pigment granules.

Photosensitizing drugs

We should bear in mind that if we’re under treatment with any type of medication (either oral or topical), we should consult a dermatologist. This could be the cause of the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

Among the former, the most frequent are antibiotics (tetracyclines and quinolones), drugs for arrhythmias (amiodarone) and diuretics (thiazides). Among the latter, the most common are anti-inflammatory ointments (ketoprofen, piroxicam), fragrances and sunscreens (octocrylene, oxybenzone).

How to prevent melasma: what should we remember?

Now you know how to prevent melasma and protect your skin, do a daily cleansing, twice a day, in order to remove dirt and impurities. In addition, you must ensure adequate sun protection, with a product whose protection index exceeds 50.

In the case of melasma, it’s best to consult a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis. The professional will be able to guide us on the treatments available to reduce it, including creams, peels, or laser treatments.

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Can Cosmetics Irritate the Skin?
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