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Melasma and Cloasma - FAQ

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Melasma and cloasma

Cloasma (or melasma) is an acquired pigmentation , light-brown or dark brown, which (more often than not) appears and is accentuated by exposure to sunlight. It can be associated with pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives and other medicines, or alternatively without any apparent cause (idiopathic).

Dear Doctor, Iím 24 and for the last 3 years sun patches have been appearing, because (for medical reasons) I was taking the pillÖ Every year it gets worse and even when using total sun-block in both winter and summer every year it re-appearsÖ lightening creams help a bit, but even then with the sunny season I have to start all over again. Is there something new? Iím available to go abroad! For me itís a nightmare. Thank you very much.

Dear Writer, Melasma (or cloasma) is pigmentation of the skin, frequently found in women, which can occur to varying degrees around the forehead, cheeks and mouth. More often, it crops up as a physiological manifestation in pregnancy. It can also be associated with the use of oral contraceptives. The mechanisms by which such pigmentations arise are not known. We know that the lesions are accentuated by sunlight and tend to persist throughout pregnancy or after the suspension of contraceptives. I understand your anxieties. Unfortunately, even though itís a very common condition, there is no treatment available thatís sure to work. Itís important to ensure adequate photoprotection to avoid accentuation of the lesions. Lightening creams can be used with varying results, for example those with a base of hydroquinone. Topical products containing a derivative of vitamin A are also being suggested (retinoic acid, retinaldehyde) and azelaic acid. Pigmantary lasers (Alexandrite Laser, ruby and YAG) are giving variable results. The lesions can be covered up with the right make up. With best regards, Dr Luigi Naldi. Coordinatore Gruppo Italiano Studi Epidemiologici in Dermatologia (GISED).

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