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Dr. Schulz Blog: Skin 101
IS IT BROWN SPOTS OR MELASMA & HOW TO TREAT IT
Not all brown spots are created equal! While some brown spots are moles and some spots develop from years of accumulated sun exposure, there are some “brown spots” that occur in large patches on the faces of women (and rarely men) which are completely different. Melasma is the name of this common condition and with the products and procedures available at Infinity Skin Care, you may finally be able to rid yourself of this unwanted discoloration once and for all!
The large tan to brown patches of melasma are typically irregular in shape and occur most commonly on the cheeks, upper lip and fore- head. They worsen in the summer and improve in the winter due to the increased ultraviolet light exposure in the warmer months.
The most common treatment and product combination for treating these unsightly patches is Fraxel® Laser Resurfacing and the application of a prescription medication containing hydroquinone. Diligent sun protection is also recommended. Fraxel® effectively lifts pigmentation to the surface so it can slough away. Hydroquinone essentially “bleaches” the skin by turning off the cellular machinery necessary to make pigment in the skin. It is important to see your dermatologist to uncover possible underlying causes for the condition and to discuss the proper prescription medication for you.
The medications can take weeks to work, sometimes months, and in some unfortunate patients with deeper forms of melasma, topical medications can never completely eradicate the discoloration.
Melasma patients must use excellent sun protection with a combination of sun avoid- ance and sunscreen use. Sunscreens work by absorbing most of the sun’s rays before they penetrate the skin, but some still get through. Effective sunscreen includes an ingredient called Parsol (avobenzone) that blocks the full spectrum of UVA light. Many ingredients block UVB light as well. Avobenzone should be 3%. Sunblocks such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide block or reflect the sun’s rays.
For maximum benefit, apply a chemical sunscreen, let dry, and then apply a chemical free sun-block containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide prior to any significant sun exposure. The products you need are available at Infinity! Let our experienced staff help with your sunscreen and sunblock selection.
Finally, for those patients whose melasma doesn’t respond adequately to topical therapy or who desire a quick fix, a series of chemical peels or microdermabrasion can significantly hasten improvement in conjunction with prescription medication. Fraxel laser treatments offer the very best results available for melasma and are the only treatments which will offer adequate clearing of melasma in those with deeper pigment. Your dermatologist can help guide you to the treatment approach which meets your specific needs.
Call 319-337-5355 to schedule your skin care consultation today!