Melasma blows…

While I was pregnant with my daughter Stella, I started to notice small dark patches of skin around my cheek bones that kept on spreading.  I visited my dermatologist – the amazing Dr. Barba in North Miami Beach and I got the great news: I have melasma.

What is Melasma?

Melasma also called chloasma or “Mark of Pregnancy” among pregnant women, is a common skin condition that affects over 200,000 people per year.  Melasma causes the appearance of brown spots in the face but can also appear on the neck and forearms.  The most common places where dark spots appear in the face are the forehead, cheeks and chin.  Melasma is a chronic condition which means you never really get rid of it.  It affects mostly women: only 10% of all melasma cases are in men.  It is most common among people with darker skin and mediterranean ancestry (like me).

Melasma right cheek  Melasma on my forehead  Melasma in left cheek

Nobody knows exactly what causes melasma but we know what triggers it.  Known triggers include:

  • Hormonal Changes: Pregnant women or anyone of hormone therapy
  • Overexposure to sun: That’s the reason people with melasma see the dark spots return every summer
  • Cosmetics: Irritants can make melasma worse

When exposed to any of these triggers, the body produces high amounts of melanin causing the appearance of dark spots on the face.

Some people see their dark spots fade after a while but my dark spots have proven very stubborn to get rid off.  My dermatologist and I have been battling these suckers for over 2 years now using a combination of creams, SPF, hats and a weekly at-home mini facial to get them to where you barely notice them.  Melasma cannot be cured so in my case is a constant battle against sun exposure (have I mentioned I live in South Florida??).  I never leave my house without a hat and use medium to full coverage foundation with SPF 50 and reapply SPF every 2 hours.

For me the worse thing about this skin condition is how it makes me feel.  Even though mine is really mild, I know my skin is not even and makes me self conscious.  I always have to wear makeup, even if I’m going to the gym or beach.  Here’s a video I found that I can relate to:

Since my strategy is focused on using non invasive treatments, sun prevention and covering the dark spots is slowly working, I’ve decided to not try invasive treatments but I’d be opened to try them.  I know I am not alone in this: 7 million people already have melasma and I’m surprised nobody talks about it.

Do you have melasma? What has worked for you? What products do you use? Please comment below.

This is first in a series.  I’ll be blogging about what products I use on other posts.  Make sure you subscribe to my blog for updates.  I promise, they’ll be good 🙂