4 Best Tips for Treating Melasma Breakouts

This is a guest post courtesy of Dr. Craig Crippen of DermMedica, a skin care clinic located in beautiful Kelowna, BC.

Melasma is a skin condition many people get where their skin breaks out in patches of darker discoloration.

It mostly happens in the skin on your face, or other parts of skin that are more exposed to the sunlight such as your hands, arms, and neck.

Unfortunately, melasma is a condition that has no known cure to permanently get rid of it.

People who have melasma are forced to follow a series of known tips and treatments to temporarily relieve any symptoms when they have a breakout. 

Here are our best tips to help you manage a breakout when it happens.

1. Apply Sun Protection Products

While the exact causes for people getting melasma are still unknown, there are known triggers for a breakout of symptoms.

One of the main ones is exposure to sunlight, specifically the UV radiation within sunlight.

It is why the only parts of your skin that get the discoloration happen on your face, arms, and neck — these are the areas that get the most UV exposure.

To treat a melasma breakout, you need to immediately do everything you can to protect your skin from any further sun exposure.

First, stay out of the sunlight as much as possible — this includes being inside but sitting in the sunlight next to a window.

Driving in a car is a common problem that most people don't recognize, as part of your skin is likely sitting in direct sunlight for the whole duration of the trip.

You should also apply good-quality sunscreen and reapply every two hours, even if you're not exposed to the sunlight.

When you are outdoors, cover up your skin with long sleeves or wide-brimmed hats for further protection.

Protecting your skin from the sun in these ways is one of the best ways to treat a breakout as fast as possible.

2. Check Your Birth Control

The other major trigger, especially for women, is a change in the balance of their hormones.

Many pregnant women will have a breakout of melasma as a result of the dramatic changes in hormones that they experience during pregnancy.

However, women also experience breakouts due to a change in birth control pills or other contraceptive methods that affect the regulation of their hormones.

If you experience a breakout and you know that you recently changed something in your life that affects your hormones, you can look into alternatives that do not affect your hormones as much.

Consult your doctor, and you might be able to find an alternative that does not trigger any melasma breakouts.

3. Use Very Gentle Skincare Products

Skincare products that are harsh and irritate your skin are the last of the more common triggers for a breakout of your melasma symptoms.

If you notice that you get frequent breakouts, it's time to start changing your routines and products until — by process of elimination — you find what was causing the breakouts.

It might take time to find out for sure, but you can be more proactive by switching all of your skincare products to those that are very gentle.

Things like waxing or exfoliation should be avoided completely during a breakout. 

Take a close, careful look at the ingredients in any product you use, and do your research to find out what chemicals and ingredients may be too harsh for you. Stick to those that are hydrating, soothing, and calming for your skin.

One further tip along these lines is to avoid overheating your skin. Heat can aggravate your skin and make it inflamed, which can worsen your symptoms just like sun exposure does.

It's better to take showers and wash your face with cool water.

4. Get Medical Treatments

If your melasma breakout just won't go away after trying any of the above, it's time to consult with your doctor or dermatologist about what treatments can help reduce or get rid of the symptoms.

There are a number of treatments that you can try, including a regimen of topical treatments using natural acids (kojic acid and azelaic acid are two examples) and vitamin C.

These help calm your skin and reduce the symptoms. You can also try chemical peels and various types of laser therapies.

Laser therapy is a newer type of treatment that has been shown to have good success at reducing the amount of discoloration, and how widespread it is on your skin.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) laser therapy is the most common, but there are several other types of laser therapy used to treat melasma.

The success of laser therapy can be inconsistent due to the differences in each specific person's skin type, and the causes or reasons for their breakout of melasma.

Make sure you consult with a doctor so they can pick the type of laser therapy that will work best for your situation.

About the Author:

Dr Crippen-author

Born and raised in Ottawa Ontario, Dr Crippen has attended three Canadian Universities and obtained four educational titles including his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.). After receiving his M.D. from the University of Western Ontario in 2001, Dr. Crippen then completed his specialty training at the University of Manitoba over the next two years.  He has worked extensively in public and private medicine since 2003, but in response to rising demand, Dr Crippen has devoted his practice exclusively to both medical & cosmetic skin care procedures/treatments at his clinic.A Fellow of the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery, and a diplomate of the American Board of Laser Surgery in Cosmetic Procedures, Dr. Crippen has trained with physicians who are at the forefront of laser & aesthetic medicine. He has made many educational visits to medical laser clinics throughout North America and Europe.