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We all want to live the dream. The dream, of course, is basically what you see in a Neutrogena commercial. Happy people, flawless skin, and maybe some splashing water just for effect.

I’m kidding, of course. But the dream is real: we want flawless skin. All too often our skin doesn’t want to cooperate. Wrinkles, redness, splotchiness, clogged pores, all kinds of bumps… it’s enough to make you want to spackle on some makeup and never look in the mirror again.

All that makeup for coverage can make you look older and its not necessary. With a little knowledge and attention, we can turn problem skin into radiant skin that your friends and family will notice!

Let’s talk about melasma or pigmented areas on the skin.

Melasma is a common skin problem that results in brown to gray-brown patches, usually on the face. It’s a result of over-active melanocytes producing too much color in one or several areas.

Most people get melasma first on their cheeks, the bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, and/or their upper lip. Areas such as the forearms and neck, will also start to pigment with a lot of sun exposure.

While the skin condition can afflict anybody, women and people with more pigment in their skin are most at risk.

The causes of melasma are not fully known, but it’s been linked to both hormones and sun exposure. Sun exposure stimulates melanocytes to produce more color which is why melasma can be worse in the summer. Melasma is also common in pregnant women. It’s so common that it has its own name, the “mask of pregnancy”. Since hormones can trigger melasma, birth control can also play a role in causing the condition.

Your dermatologist can typically diagnose melasma with a visual skin check. We have a tool called a Wood’s light that we can use to see how deep the melasma is in the skin. Sometimes melasma can look like other skin conditions. In cases where there’s some uncertainty we can do a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

Melasma can fade on its own. This usually happens when triggering hormones subside with a birth or changing a birth control.

For others, they can have melasma for years or even for a lifetime. For these cases, melasma treatments are available.

Topical medications seek to lighten the skin. This can be Hydroquinone, Tretinoin and corticosteroids, and other topical medications. Usually a combination of hydroquinone and tretinoin works best as the hydroquinone suppresses the melanocyte activity and the tretinoin eliminates the existing pigmentation through exfoliation.

We also have other procedures to work to break up the excessive color quickly. These include peels, microdermabrasion, dermabrasion, fraxel laser treatment, or a light-based procedure. These types of procedures should be used in conjunction with topicals for a more permanent solution and to eliminate the potential for any rebounding color.

Be sure to talk to your dermatologist about what to expect and potential side effects from any procedure.

The best preventative for melasma is to have a good skin care regimen that includes using sunscreen daily, wearing wide brimmed hats, and sunglasses. This will help to minimize your sun exposure.

If you’re suffering from melasma or want a problem area diagnosed by a board-certified dermatologist, call the experts at Summit Plastic Surgery & Dermatology at (910) 794-5355.

We now have three convenient locations to serve you in Wilmington, Supply, and Hampstead, NC. Same day appointments possible in Wilmington and our Hampstead locations.

We all want to live the dream. The dream, of course, is basically what you see in a Neutrogena commercial. Happy people, flawless skin, and maybe some splashing water just for effect.

I’m kidding, of course. But the dream is real: we want flawless skin. All too often our skin doesn’t want to cooperate. Wrinkles, redness, splotchiness, clogged pores, all kinds of bumps… it’s enough to make you want to spackle on some makeup and never look in the mirror again.

All that makeup for coverage can make you look older and its not necessary. With a little knowledge and attention, we can turn problem skin into radiant skin that your friends and family will notice!

Let’s talk about melasma or pigmented areas on the skin.

Melasma is a common skin problem that results in brown to gray-brown patches, usually on the face. It’s a result of over-active melanocytes producing too much color in one or several areas.

Most people get melasma first on their cheeks, the bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, and/or their upper lip. Areas such as the forearms and neck, will also start to pigment with a lot of sun exposure.

While the skin condition can afflict anybody, women and people with more pigment in their skin are most at risk.

The causes of melasma are not fully known, but it’s been linked to both hormones and sun exposure. Sun exposure stimulates melanocytes to produce more color which is why melasma can be worse in the summer. Melasma is also common in pregnant women. It’s so common that it has its own name, the “mask of pregnancy”. Since hormones can trigger melasma, birth control can also play a role in causing the condition.

Your dermatologist can typically diagnose melasma with a visual skin check. We have a tool called a Wood’s light that we can use to see how deep the melasma is in the skin. Sometimes melasma can look like other skin conditions. In cases where there’s some uncertainty we can do a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

Melasma can fade on its own. This usually happens when triggering hormones subside with a birth or changing a birth control.

For others, they can have melasma for years or even for a lifetime. For these cases, melasma treatments are available.

Topical medications seek to lighten the skin. This can be Hydroquinone, Tretinoin and corticosteroids, and other topical medications. Usually a combination of hydroquinone and tretinoin works best as the hydroquinone suppresses the melanocyte activity and the tretinoin eliminates the existing pigmentation through exfoliation.

We also have other procedures to work to break up the excessive color quickly. These include peels, microdermabrasion, dermabrasion, fraxel laser treatment, or a light-based procedure. These types of procedures should be used in conjunction with topicals for a more permanent solution and to eliminate the potential for any rebounding color.

Be sure to talk to your dermatologist about what to expect and potential side effects from any procedure.

The best preventative for melasma is to have a good skin care regimen that includes using sunscreen daily, wearing wide brimmed hats, and sunglasses. This will help to minimize your sun exposure.

If you’re suffering from melasma or want a problem area diagnosed by a board-certified dermatologist, call the experts at Summit Plastic Surgery & Dermatology at (910) 794-5355.

We now have three convenient locations to serve you in Wilmington, Supply, and Hampstead, NC. Same day appointments possible in Wilmington and our Hampstead locations.

Love the skin you're in! Schedule your skin checkup now!

Make sure you don’t have any spots, moles, melasma or rough patches of skin that need attention. Stay healthy and beautiful!
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