Melasma is a common skin condition that mainly occurs in women during their reproductive years, though it may affect men in smaller numbers. It is characterized by excess pigmentation that results in irregular brown spots on the face, particularly on the cheeks, upper lip, forehead and chin.
Several treatments exist to treat melasma. The most common treatments are topical ointments. This article will discuss the most effective ingredients to treat melasma. Dermstore carries a number of products with these ingredients.
Hydroquinone, a chemical compound, is the most commonly used treatment for melasma. Hydroquinone works by inhibiting the growth of abnormal pigmentation. At the same time, it also lightens the abnormal pigmentation that is currently present. Concentrations range from 2-5 percent; it is recommended that the lowest concentration be used to prevent side effects. Side effects can include dermatitis, dry skin, and ochronosis, which is a dark-blue pigmentation that can occur in those with darker skin tones. Ochronosis may be permanent once the application of hydroquinone is halted. Because of that, many people shy away from using the ingredient. Its use has also been banned in some countries.
2. Azelaic Acid
Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid that was originally used to treat acne. It was discovered to also inhibit the excess pigmentation found in melasma. The most effective concentration for results is 20 percent. In addition, it has been found to selectively target the abnormal pigment cells found in melasma while sparing the normal pigment cells. It is as effective as hydroquinone but without the side effects. However, it does still carry a risk of side effects, such as mild redness and burning.
3. Kojic acid
Kojic acid was created by combining several species of fungi. It affects melasma in a similar manners as azelaic acid: it inhibits the growth of abnormal pigment cells. It also serves double duty as a potent antioxidant. Kojic acid is effective at concentrations of 1-4 percent. However, while as effective as other melasma treatments, kojic acid may cause more incidents of dermatitis. It is generally used when other treatments are poorly tolerated.
Tretinoin is in the retinoid family. It is effective in treating melasma because it increases cell turnover in the skin, which results in a gradual fading of the melasma as the skin renews itself. Recommended concentrations for melasma are 0.025-1 percent. Tretinoin can cause side effects, such as dryness and dermatitis.
5. Glycolic acid
Glycolic acid, an acid derived from fruit, promotes skin cell turnover and also inhibits abnormal pigment cells from forming. Effective concentrations are 5-10 percent. The most common side effect is skin irritation that can be easily remedied with face moisturizer.
While melasma may be a common condition, it is also a treatable condition with topical ointments being the most common treatment. Someone suffering from melasma only needs to look to one of these ingredients to find an effective solution.