What is Melasma?
Melasma is an ordinary pigmentation disorder that appears on the skin in form of white or brown patches but is primarily seen on the face.
It is a common skin problem. Melasma mostly spreads across various facial parts like upper lips, chin, forehead, nose bridge, and cheeks. It also can appear on other parts of the body that are exposed to a lot of sunlight, such as the forearms and neck.
Women are more prone to melasma as compared to men. It is common during pregnancy. Hormones seem to trigger melasma. Most people, suffering from melasma have a long history of exposure to the sun on a daily or intermittent basis. By the way, heat is also counted as a major factor of melasma and suspected to be the underlying reason for this problem.
Types of Melasma
Medical science has diagnosed four types of pigmentation factors in melasma like Mixed, Dermal, Epidermal, and an un-named type that is found in people having a dark complexion.
- The epidermal melasma is defined by the excess of melasma present in the superficial layer of skin.
- Dermal melasma is identified by the melanophages found throughout the dermis.
- A mixed type that has symptoms of both dermal and epidermal type of melasma.
- The fourth type of melasma occurs in people who have an excess of melanocytes in their skin.
Diagnosis of Melasma
Melasma is diagnosed by recognizing the appearance of brown skin patches on the face. In most cases, the disease the diagnosed by visual examination. There is hardly any requirement for a skin biopsy.
Causes of Melasma
There are no certain causes of melasma. It likely occurs when the colour-making cells in the skin, melanocytes, produce an excessive amount of colour. People with dark skin colour are more prone to melasma because they have more active melanocytes than people with light skin.
Common melasma causes include:
- Sun exposure: Melanocytes present in our skin are stimulated by the UV rays of sunlight. In fact, just a small amount of sun exposure can result in melasma. Sun exposure is the reason why melasma gets worse in summer. Heat is also the main reason why many people with melasma get it again and again.
- Hormonal Changes: Pregnant women often get melasma. It is triggered due to the high level of hormones in the blood. Hormone replacement medication and birth control pills are also known causes of melasma.
- Skincare products: If a product irritates your skin, melasma can worsen.
Signs and Symptoms of Melasma
Common signs and symptoms of melasma are brown or grey-brown patches on the face. These patches most commonly appear on:
- Bridge of the nose
- Above the upper lip
Melasma Ayurvedic Treatment
According to Ayurveda, Melasma is triggered by excessive sun exposure. It is typically a pitta imbalance disorder. Ayurveda correlates melasma with vyanga. This word is derived from its root words Vi + Anga. Vi refers to Vikirti and anga refers to a normal body part. This is the disease that manifests over the face due to the vitiation of pitta and Vata disease resulting in painless dark brown pigmentation.
Melasma treatment in Ayurveda has a beneficial effect on the body as compared to conventional treatments. The treatment includes some essential therapies like:
- Nidana Parivarjana – It treats the disease by eradicating the causative factors of the disorder.
- Siravyadha – Also known as venesection, it is a form of bloodletting treatment. Apart from other treatments, this treatment is fulfilled by letting vitiated blood out of the body. It is one of the best natural treatments for melasma.
- Pralepa – It includes the application of ointments, creams etc.
- Nasyakarma – (Nasal drops) – It is for disorders affecting the neck region. It helps to let out the toxins through the neck/oral region.
- Rakta shodha – It includes oral medication for treatment and purification of blood.
Home Remedies for Melasma
People might consider treating melasma at home, though. Here are some common home remedies:
- Aloe vera - Apply aloe vera gel over the affected area. It has a substance called mucilaginous polysaccharide (MPS), which softens and lightens brown spots and other discolourations.
- Turmeric – Apply turmeric paste to the affected areas every day. Curcumin is the primary ingredient of turmeric, it is an anti-oxidant that lightens the skin. Take 10 tablespoons of milk and add 5-6 tablespoons of turmeric to it. If the paste is thin, you may add a tablespoon of gram flour to it. Apply it regularly till you notice a difference.
- Lemon juice – Apply lemon juice on the affected skin every day. The citric acid present in lemons can really help in skin lightening. Wash your hands and squeeze a fresh lemon on the affected areas; gently rub and leave it for 20 minutes.
- Tulsi leaves – Extract juice from fresh tulsi leaves and mix camphor powder in them. Apply this thick juice to the affected area and wash it after it dries.
Preventions for Melasma
Various common-sense tactics can be used to help avoid melasma from developing in the first place. These include:
- Regular use of sunscreen - As sunlight is known to be the biggest cause of melasma, it is better to get in the habit of using sunscreen to keep its adverse effects away. Select a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection and you will be fine.
- Outdoor hats - Hats with a broad brim can be very helpful in securing your facial skin against sun rays. Use of daily sun scream- As sunlight is to be considered the greatest trigger of melasma. So, the use of daily sun screams is the best option to keep it away.
- Gentle skin care - Skin irritating products can worsen the symptoms of melasma, therefore, it is advised to use non-chemical, gentle products for skincare.
Lifestyle Changes for Melasma
Certain lifestyle changes are to be adopted to avoid the severity of the disease. Various foods can be avoided such as Tamarind, spicy and masala food, garlic, brinjal, green chillies, curd or yoghurt, buffalo milk (should use only cow milk), liquor, sugarcane, eggs, fish, chicken, etc. Also, avoid exercise in heat and birth control pills.