Melasma is a skin condition that comes with by dark patches, often on the face. It stems from excessive melanin production, triggered by factors like sun exposure, hormonal shifts (common in pregnancy), or genetic predisposition.
These patches typically appear on the cheeks, forehead, and upper lip. Seeking professional advice for treatments like topical agents or procedures can help manage melasma effectively.
But what if it's only getting worse despite your best efforts to control melasma? This guide explains why. It also explains which pills are good for melasma. Continue reading!
Why is my Melasma Getting Worse?
Melasma demands specialist attention when it persists despite preventive efforts. While complete eradication can be challenging, effective management is achievable.
Understanding why your melasma could be getting worse is key to effective treatment or management plans. Two chief culprits are radiation, particularly from sunlight, and hormonal fluctuations.
These triggers intensify the condition, making sun protection paramount.
Additionally, several factors can exacerbate melasma. Key among these include:
Using contraceptives that contain estrogen and progesterone:
Contraceptives, especially those incorporating estrogen and progesterone, can make melasma worse. These hormones influence melanocytes.
These are the cells responsible for producing melanin. Elevated levels of estrogen can lead to increased melanin production.
With increased melanin production, your melasma could get worse. So, if you're using oral contraceptive pills with these hormones, monitor any changes in skin pigmentation.
If melasma worsens, consult your doctor. They may recommend alternative contraceptive options if deemed necessary.
Hypothyroidism is a condition characterized by an underactive thyroid gland. It can also contribute to the aggravation of melasma.
The thyroid gland regulates metabolism and hormones. So when it malfunctions, it disrupts the delicate hormonal balance.
This imbalance can stimulate melanocytes, leading to heightened melanin production. So, if living with hypothyroidism, it is best to be vigilant about sun protection.
Also, consider seeking medical guidance for managing both conditions effectively.
During pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations are common, with heightened levels of estrogen, progesterone, and melanocyte-stimulating hormones.
These hormonal shifts can trigger or intensify melasma. This best explains why it is often referred to as "the mask of pregnancy."
While the precise mechanisms remain unclear, it's crucial for expectant mothers to prioritize sun protection.
Also, you may want to consult a healthcare professional for guidance on managing melasma during pregnancy.
Certain cosmetics you're using:
Certain cosmetics can contain ingredients that induce a phototoxic reaction in the skin.
This reaction is a heightened sensitivity to light, particularly to UV and infrared radiation.
The combination of these cosmetics with sun exposure can make melasma worse.
For management, opt for hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and dermatologist-approved cosmetics.
These alternatives can help you mitigate this risk. Also, regularly check ingredient labels and patch-test new products if you're already struggling with melasma.
- Using scented soaps: Some scented soaps may contain fragrances or additives that can irritate the skin and exacerbate melasma.
Harsh chemicals or allergens in these soaps can lead to inflammation, making existing pigmentation more noticeable.
Switching to fragrance-free, hypoallergenic soaps can be beneficial in minimizing the risk of melasma worsening.
Opting for gentle, pH-balanced cleansers also helps maintain skin health without triggering irritation.
- Using LED screens: LED screens from devices like televisions, laptops, cell phones, and tablets emit varying forms of light, including ultraviolet, visible, and infrared.
Prolonged and direct exposure to these screens can potentially exacerbate melasma.
While research on this link is ongoing, taking precautionary measures like reducing screen time or using blue light filters can be prudent for individuals with melasma.
- Using phototoxic drugs: Certain medications can render your skin more sensitive to sunlight, a condition known as phototoxicity.
This heightened sensitivity can lead to increased skin pigmentation and exacerbate existing melasma.
Common culprits include; antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), diuretics, retinoids, and antipsychotics.
If melasma worsens while taking any of these medications, consult a healthcare provider.
Depending on your medical needs, they may recommend or prescribe alternative treatment options.
- Using tanning beds: Tanning beds emit UV light, which can be as damaging, if not more so, than natural sunlight.
The UV radiation from tanning beds can stimulate melanocytes. Again, this may lead to increased melanin production and make melasma worse.
Avoiding tanning beds altogether is recommended if you already have melasma. Opt for alternative methods of achieving a tan.
For example, self-tanning products can provide a safer alternative without aggravating the condition.
What Pills are good for Melasma?
If you fancy pills for melasma treatment, your doctor may prescribe oral Tranexamic acid. It is a notable discovery in melasma research and plays a key role in inhibiting melanocyte-keratinocyte interactions.
It works by slowing down melanin synthesis to reduce hyperpigmentation. But, what sets it apart is its versatility.
Tranexamic acid can be taken orally in tandem with topical and cosmetic treatments. Some dermatologists advocate a combined approach, using oral tranexamic acid alongside laser treatments or topical solutions containing vitamin C.
While lasers can be effective, especially in combination with tranexamic acid, it is best to proceed with caution.
This is especially true for patients with darker skin tones as improper laser use may exacerbate melasma.
Other than Tranexamic acid, the other treatment options that your skin doctor may recommend for your melasma include;
- Azelaic acid: This safe-to-use topical treatment, available in various forms, works by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase, responsible for melanin production.
This way, it prevents the formation of new pigment and gradually lightens existing dark patches. Applying it twice a day is recommended during pregnancy.
- Hydrocortisone (topical corticosteroid): This agent not only helps fade melasma-related discoloration but also reduces the risk of dermatitis that may occur with other treatments.
It calms inflammation, thus complementing the effects of other agents in the treatment plan.
- Methimazole (topical or oral): Available in both forms, this antithyroid agent is particularly beneficial for melasma cases resistant to hydroquinone.
It works by regulating thyroid function to control melanin production. This ultimately leads to an improvement in melasma symptoms.
- Tretinoin (topical retinoid): This potent prescription-strength treatment is highly effective against melasma, but caution is advised, especially for pregnant individuals due to potential dermatitis.
Tretinoin works by accelerating cell turnover, facilitating the gradual fading of dark patches.
Final Thoughts on What's Making My Melasma Worse?
There are several potential explanations for your melasma getting worse.
Understanding the potential triggers that can worsen melasma is essential for effective management.
Consult a knowledgeable practitioner for personalized advice and treatment options.
To schedule an appointment for melasma management in Singapore, call or visit the Cambridge Medical Group at:
The Cambridge Medical Group
391B Orchard Road, #08-05A1
Tower B, Ngee Ann City
+65 6733 0777