Does Photo-Aging Play a Role in Melasma?

sun protectionMelasma or commonly termed as pregnancy mask is a recurring issue among pregnant women. A review about research concerning the correlation of the condition to pregnancy have been recently published to clear out misconceptions about melasma formation.

Melasma usually affects pregnant women, but there are cases that it also shows up among women within the same age. It is defined as brown spots that show up in the face or hands and shoulders. It usually comes out on visible areas but always in a symmetric pattern. Treating the condition has always been a challenge due to the constraints of women’s pregnancy. For non-pregnant patients, laser and peels are used but the results always vary.

Melasma formation is correlated to the increase of hormones among pregnant women. Melanocyte cells that cause the pigmentation is produced in large quantities leading to forced skin discoloration. There are some women who get the same condition due to their genetic predisposition and gives them pigment cells that are more sensitive to sun and hormonal triggers.

While this is a widely known fact, dermatologists from Italy and France believe that there might be other potential culprits. And with the presence of these external causes, alternative treatments can be devised.

In the 2018 Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research journal, studies were conducted not just on melanocytes but also on other cellular interactions. The researchers believe other mediators are in play in pigment production. The damage caused by sunlight exposure has been known but female hormones and other skin cells can also be culprits.

Effects during the study show increase in melanocyte and pigment production without the hormones as a cause. This explains the increased relapse rates as well as the recurring conditions of patients even after child birth. Due to this discovery researchers deduce that melasma is not just purely a hormonal condition. It is in fact included in the photo-aging spectrum for skin conditions.

By looking at the condition in a new light, it is possible to formulate new ways of treatment. Instead of directly addressing the pigmentation, other causes can be addressed. Newer modalities can now be used to target the hormones, sun damage and other identified causes. This will open more doors for new treatments and procedures that are specifically designed to target specific causes.

By understanding that melasma has a photo-aging component, dermatologists and patients alike are now aware of the necessity of sunlight protection. As we all know, prevention is definitely better than cure. It is vital that our skin has a shield against the harmful rays of the sun. Protective clothing and a sunscreen with good coverage should be an essential in every woman’s everyday beauty routine.