Are you struggling with make-up to conceal those bluish-grey dark patches on your face and neck? While it is probably not just a normal suntan, you might have the most common skin pigmentation condition, ‘Melasma’ .
In this article, let’s understand the causative factors, various treatment methods along with preventive tips for Melasma in detail with the help of Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.
What Is Melasma?
Melasma is a type of pigmentation disorder, in which the melanocytes of your skin are triggered to produce melanin in excess amounts. It appears as dark brown or grey patches on your skin, primarily on your face and neck regions. Usually, melasma patches are harmless and painless.
Who Gets Melasma?
Though melasma can also be developed by men, it is mostly noticed in women, especially in their reproductive years. It is usually seen in people with 20-40 years of age.
"The melasma developed by pregnant women is often termed as ‘chloasma’ or the ‘mask of pregnancy," says Dr. Zeel.
Studies revealed that around 90% of the people who experience melasma are women. 
What Does Melasma Look Like?
Melasma appears as flat patches that are darker than your usual skin tone on your face and neck regions.
Symptoms Of Melasma
1. Melasma patches are larger when compared to freckles or age spots.
2. These dark patches are typically symmetrical, i.e, appear in the same patterns on both sides of your face.
3. The most common regions which can develop melasma patches are: chin, cheeks, forehead, bridge of the nose, and neck.
4. Sometimes, it can also appear on your forearms and back regions in cases of chronic sun exposure.
Melasma Causes And Risk Factors
As per Ayurvedic texts, melasma can be correlated with the condition ‘Vyanga’, which can be caused due to vitiation of Pitta and Vata doshas in your body. Primarily, it is caused by the vitiation in Rakta Pitta.
Following factors can trigger the raise in Pitta and Vata levels in your skin, leading to the manifestation of melasma:
A. Genetic factors with familial predisposition
B. Hormonal fluctuations occurring during pregnancy
C. Hormonal imbalance occurring due to the conception of birth control pills
D. Chronic exposure to sun, radiation, and intense heat
E. Improper sleep cycle & stressful lifestyle
F. Emotional distress causing anger, fear, or grief
G. Toxification of blood caused by wrong combinations of food
H. Overconsumption of hot and spicy, sour and salty foods
I. Chronic liver and GI disorders
J. Anemia due to lack of nutritional diet
K. Sometimes, improperly carried panchakarma therapy can also result in imbalanced doshas, leading to melasma
People with darker skin are having more risk of developing melasma when compared to people with lighter skin tones. Also, melasma is more common during summers.
How To Get Rid Of Dark Patches( Melasma) On Skin?
1. Ayurvedic Treatments
Ayurvedic treatments for melasma include herbal applications that work to balance the elevated doshas in your blood and skin tissues. You can understand the state of your doshas by observing the features of melasma patches:
- When vata dosha is in dominance, melasma appears as bluish-black patches on your face.
- When Pitta dosha is in dominance, you may notice the edges of patches turning coppery red.
- Melasma patches have white edges associated with itching if the Kapha dosha is also imbalanced.
The Ayurvedic doctors prescribe and administer the most suitable herbal formulations for treating melasma based on your Prakriti, elevated doshas, and severity of the condition.
Line of Ayurvedic treatment for melasma includes:
It is a form of bloodletting treatment used in Ayurveda to eliminate the vitiated blood from your body. It needs to be performed by an experienced Ayurvedic doctor.
It involves the external application of dosha balancing herbal creams and pastes on the affected areas.
Most commonly used herbal pastes for melasma treatment:
- Matulungadi lepa
- Lodhradi lepa
It involves massaging your face and body with medicinal oils that pacify your elevated doshas.
Most commonly used oils:
- Kanaka tailam
- Eladi tailam
- Kumkumadi tailam
- Nalpamaradi tailam
D. Nasya Karma
It involves using herbal nasal drops to eliminate toxins from your facial tissues through oral and nasal routes. Using kumkumadi tailam (saffron oil) for nasya karma is a very effective treatment for melasma as it relieves excess Pitta from your facial tissues.
E. Rakta Shodhaka
It involves taking oral herbal medication which helps to purify your blood and balance your doshas.
Most commonly used medications:
To restore hormonal balance:
- Mahamanjisthadi Kashayam
- Chandraprabha vati
To purify your blood:
- Gandhaka rasayana
- Kaishore guggulu
- Mahatiktam kashayam
F. Herbs For Skin Care Regimen
Apart from the above treatments, you need to have a dosha balancing skincare regimen to control melasma. You can choose your herbal skincare products containing the following ingredients, which are proven to reduce melasma by balancing your doshas.
- Elachi-balances Vata and Kapha doshas
- Sariva-balances all the three doshas
- Haridra-balances all the three doshas
- Lodhra-balances Pitta and Kapha doshas
- Daruharidra-balances Pitta and Kapha doshas
- Amla-balances all the three doshas
- Chandana-Pitta and Kapha doshas
- Manjistha-balances Pitta and Kapha doshas
2. Home Remedies
A. Make a thick paste by adding a spoon of milk into 2 spoons of turmeric powder. Apply it to the affected areas and let it dry. Wash it off with warm water after half an hour. Repeat it daily.
B. Apply fresh aloe vera gel on the affected area. Massage it gently for a few minutes and wash it off with warm water. Do it twice a day until you see a visible difference.
C. Dilute a spoon of lemon juice in water and apply it to the affected area. Leave it for half an hour and then wash it off. Do it twice a day for at least 3-4 weeks.
D. Squeeze the juice from grated cucumber and apply it to your face. Leave it for half an hour before rinsing it off. Repeat it once a week for 2-3 months.
E. Add 2 spoons of honey into a small cup of papaya puree. Apply the mixture on your face and wash it off after half an hour. Repeat this once a week.
F. Mix white onion juice and apple cider vinegar in equal quantities. Apply this mixture to the affected area. Wash it off after half an hour. You can repeat this twice a day for better results.
Vedix Tip: Please do a patch test on your elbow before applying onion and apple cider vinegar juice on your skin. You can continue to apply it on your face if you do not have any skin irritation or burning sensation for 24-48 hours after application.
3. Vitamins For Melasma Treatment
A. Vitamin C
Recent studies have shown that vitamin C is an effective short term treatment for melasma .
Having vitamin C and iron rich diets can help in resolving melasma when it is linked to iron deficiency anemia or when your blood contains high levels of copper (due to vitiated Pitta).
Regular intake of citrus fruits, broccoli, tomato, capsicum, kiwi, mango, papaya, pineapple, melons, strawberries, etc. helps you get sufficient vitamin C. Also, have seafood, beans, dark leafy vegetables regularly in your diet for iron.
B. Vitamin E
While studies show that using vitamin E oil topically is moderately effective in treating hyperpigmentation of melasma , you can combine it with vitamin C for better results.
Sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, spinach, avocado, & vegetable oils are some of the good sources of vitamin E.
C. Vitamin D
Although no studies are claiming that vitamin D is effective in treating melasma, it is very important to maintain the general health of your skin. Meat, milk, eggs, mushrooms, fish, yogurt are some of the foods that you can include in your diet for vitamin D.
If your diet lacks sufficient vitamins, you can consume them in the form of supplements as prescribed by your doctor.
4. Medical Treatments
"Usually, melasma can fade away after a few months when it is triggered by hormonal imbalance caused by birth control pills or pregnancy. However, in some cases, it may take years for people to achieve lightened skin tones,’’ says Dr. Zeel.
In such cases, there are a few topical, oral medications and surgical procedures as below, which you can opt for to control melasma:
A. Hydroquinone in the form of cream, gel, lotion, or liquid
B. Tretinoin and corticosteroids
C. Creams containing azelaic acid or kojic acid
D. Chemical peel treatment
E. Surgical procedures such as dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, laser treatment , etc.
‘’These treatments may also come with possible side effects such as skin irritation, dryness, etc.," says Dr. Zeel. Hence, please go for suitable medical treatments for melasma only under the guidance of a certified dermatologist.
How To Prevent Melasma?
1. Use sunscreen daily with an SPF of 30 or above.
2. Whenever you step out, protect your face by using a mask or scarf. Also, try to wear clothes with full sleeves such as coats, shrugs, etc. to minimize sun exposure.
3. You can also rely on umbrellas and wide-brimmed hats.
4. Eat a well-balanced diet that keeps your Ayurvedic doshas in balance.
5. Use the right and gentle products for your skin type, that works to pacify your elevated doshas.
6. Avoid constantly exposing yourself to LED light from your mobiles, laptop, or televisions.
7. Avoid overconsumption of birth control pills or oral contraceptives that contain progesterone and estrogen.
8. Avoid menopausal treatments such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) unless it is a complicated condition.
9. Avoid using cosmetics on your face irrationally and be gentle with your skin.
How Is Melasma Diagnosed?
Dermatologists can diagnose melasma through a visual examination. You can be asked to undergo certain tests such as Wood’s lamp examination, skin biopsy, etc. to rule out other similar conditions.
Wood’s lamp examination helps the doctor to understand the depth of melasma in your skin tissue and check if there are any fungal or bacterial infections.
Do not administer any of the Ayurvedic or medical drugs and treatments discussed in this article without consulting your Ayurvedic doctor or dermatologist.
The Last Word
While melasma can be a temporary skin pigmentation disorder, it can be a chronic problem for some people. You may need follow-up visits with your dermatologist along with sticking to a dosha balancing skincare regimen to deal with melasma.
At Vedix, we analyze your skin based on your elevated doshas and present you with a customized Ayurvedic skincare regimen that is just right for your skin type.Know Your Dosha Now
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