As a hyperpigmentation condition known for relapses, melasma is a chronic condition that requires dermatologists to effectively manage patient expectations while trying to treat the skin.
“As providers, we want to underpromise and over-deliver,” says Emil Tanghetti, M.D., founder of the Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery in Sacramento, Calif. “Melasma is a very challenging disease to treat because there are many factors that impact it.”
Consequently, dermatologists need a hefty arsenal of treatment options to provide patients with the highest level of care possible. Fortunately, he says, the toolkit is expanding. While many long-standing therapeutic recommendations are still part of standard treatment, the industry is expanding the methods and products it uses to combat the day-to-day impacts.
Sunscreen: For decades, sun protection has been the first therapeutic option prescribed to patients upon a melasma diagnosis, says Pearl Grimes, M.D., director of the Vitiligo and Pigmentation Institute of Southern California. Historically, most attention has been given to protecting patients from UV light, but recent research indicates visible light, particularly low-spectrum blue light, also exacerbates hyperpigmentation.
Consequently, dermatologists should encourage patients to choose sunscreen and cosmetics that contain iron oxide, such as those from Dermablend, she says, because it can effectively block out both UV and visible light.
“I have patients mix it with their regular make-up or sunscreen to be able to give them some additional protection against visible light,” she says.