What is Chloasma?

Chloasma (melasma) is a condition that refers to a pattern of pigmentation of the face affecting the cheeks and sometimes the nose, forehead, and upper lips.

There are different types of chloasma depending on the depth of involvement- superficial (epidermal), deep (dermal), and mixed.

What is the cause of Chloasma?

The cause of chloasma remains unknown. However, there are several factors that contribute to the development of chloasma. These include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Oral contraceptives (especially oestrogen containing pills)
  • Hysterectomy
  • Sunlight

What are the treatment options for chloasma?

Chloasma is a difficult condition to treat. There are many therapeutic options available. These include:

  • Hydroquinone
  • Skinoren
  • Retin A
  • Kojic Acid
  • Alpha-hydroxy acids
  • Liquorice extracts
  • Mulberry derivatives
  • Chemical peels- glycolic acids/salicylic acids
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Laser therapy

Photoprotection and photoavoidance are absolutely essential. It is advisable to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30.

The sunscreen must be evenly applied to all sun-exposed areas and must be reapplied depending on the circumstances.

How is Hydroquinone used?

Hydroquinone products are prescribed by a practitioner only. They should be used with extreme caution and should not be used for longer than 3 months. Prolonged use of hydroquinone could cause a particular type of pigmentation referred to as ochronosis.

This condition occurs as a result of higher concentrations of hydroquinone used in patients. It is imperative that sunscreen is used with hydroquinone related products.

What are chemical peels?

A chemical peel is a simple and easy procedure to undertake. It involves applying a fruit acid to your skin and neutralizing it a short while later with a base. The reaction results in the microscopic peeling of the skin. This, in turn, leads to smoothness, enhanced clarity, restoration of firmness of the skin, and an even skin tone. Chemical peels decrease roughness and scaling of the skin. Regular long term peel programs can delay skin aging, wrinkling, scaling, pigmentation, and keratosis pilaris.
There are various peels used depending on the depth of treatment required.

What is microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is a novel treatment for the lightening of Chloasma. It utilizes Aluminium Oxide Crystals which is applied under pressure to the skin. The treatment is combined with lightening agents such as hydroquinone and Kojic acid.