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What is Melasma?
Skin Institute
June 14, 2020


The islands of Aotearoa may be beautiful, and the air one of the cleanest in the world, but this comes with a price if we don’t protect our skin. Because of our location on the planet, the levels of ultraviolet rays that we are exposed to daily are 37% higher than the rest of the world. Rain or sunshine, this is a fact. As a result, pigmentation problems are a challenging problem for many people.

Two common pigmentation problems are melasma and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Melasma is an inflammatory condition which is usually triggered by an underlying hormonal issue and aggravated by sun exposure. Dermatologists consider it to be a chronic skin disorder that results in symmetrical, blotchy, brownish facial pigmentation. Post-inflammatory pigmentation is acquired as a result of injury to the epidermis or may be caused by an underlying inflammatory disorder of the skin. It is also more common in people with darker skin. Sunscreen alone is not enough to resolve the problem. If you have melasma or hyperpigmentation there is hope. Daily application of zinc sunscreen and cosmeceutical skin preparations will help, along with an individualised treatment plan.

Q&A with Dr David Lim Consultant Dermatologist at Skin Institute:

Q.1. What evidence do we have for effective treatments for melasma and hyperpigmentation?

A: Studies show Glycolic acid peels and Dermal needling are useful for improving mild melasma.

Q.2. Is there any medication that may help with these conditions?

A:Studies show Tranexamic acid may be prescribed as an effective treatment for melasma. A treatment course of topical Hydroquinone cream may also be prescribed to improve severe melasma or hyper pigmentation.

Q.3. Is IPL a suitable treatment for Melasma?

Light treatments such as IPL have previously been used with limited success to improve melasma. This treatment is no longer recommended due to the risk of unwanted side effects and the high chance of the melasma reoccurring. IPL may initially improve hyperpigmentation but then re-occur due to certain skin types or sun exposure.

Q.4  What skincare products are best to use if I have melasma?

  1. Sunscreen (always, even in winter)
  2. A daily skincare regime containing Vit A, B & C
  3. Gentle cleansers such as AO Glacial Melting Cleanser that hydrate and do not irritate the skin.

At the Skin Institute we have highly experienced Appearance Medicine Nurses and Advanced Skin Therapists who provide an integrated approach to treating melasma and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Book your free cosmetic consult at one of our clinics today.