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Can I Treat My Melasma but Keep My Freckles?

Do you want to get rid of your melasma but keep your freckles? If so, keep reading.

What causes darkening of the skin?

Uneven color and darkening of the skin are some of the most common concerns about the skin. Everyone wants a smooth color of their skin without blemishes or irregularities. Changes in color of your skin can be caused by a number of factors. Some people naturally have freckles; the medical term for this is ephelides. These are genetic and are most common in people with fair skin tones. Some people have moles. If the moles change in shape, color, or size, you should have it checked to make sure it’s not cancerous. Some of the most common causes of a change in skin color are in response to certain things. For example, sun exposure is the most common way people get a change in their skin color. A sun tan occurs when your skin gets a lot of exposure to the sun. Your body’s way of protecting itself is to make your skin get darker. That’s why you see a sun tan. Some people don’t have enough pigment in their skin to get tanned so they get a burn. Over time with a lot of sun exposure you may see dark spots on the skin often referred tot as sun spots. A sun tan occurs because the energy from the suns rays causes inflammation in your skin. After the inflammation, the skin can get darker. This is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or simply PIH. PIH can occur from any form of inflammation, whether it’s caused by a sun, a burn, acne, or anything else. This is why if you get a burn or a pimple on your skin it sometimes leaves a dark spot. These dark spots are often (incorrectly) called scars. They’re not really scars because true scars are a change in texture of your skin. You can feel it when you run your finger over it. Instead, it’s just a change in color. The reason this is important is because the treatment is different.

What is melasma?

Melasma is a common condition characterized by the appearance of dark patches on your skin. The most commonly affected areas are the upper cheeks, the forehead, and the skin above the upper lip (making it look like a moustache). Melasma is caused by an imbalance of hormones inside your body. This imbalance makes your skin very sensitive to the sun. So if you get a little bit of sun exposure, your skin gets dark easily. And it can stay dark for a long time. Melasma is much more common in women than in men and most commonly is seen when hormone levels change such as when you get pregnant, after you deliver, when you breast feed, or when you go on or off a birth control pill. Sometimes melasma goes away after menopause. The pigment that builds up in your skin with melasma can be in different layers of your skin. If the pigment is in the surface layers of your skin it will look dark. But if the pigment is deeper in your skin it will look faint and maybe patchy.

How can I treat dark spots?

Darkening of the skin can be treated in a number of ways. The first and most important thing to do is use sunscreen every day. You’ll want a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30 and that has UVA and UVB protection. There are a variety of topical products that will lighten your skin. Look for ingredients such as hydroquinone, kojic acid, arbutin, licorice extract, and vitamin C. In addition, there are many treatments that can lighten the skin. These range from basic facials to chemical peels to laser treatments such as IPL, Ultra Microneedling, or fractional lasers. All of these things target the dark pigment in your skin.

Can I treat my melasma, but keep my freckles?

All of the products and treatments that are used for darkening of the skin (whether it’s from freckles, melasma, or anything else) will target the pigment in your skin. Since any form of darkening of your skin is seen because of an increased level of pigment, if you treat any form of darkening, you will be treating all of it. The topical products, facials, chemical peels, and laser treatments can’t tell the difference whether the pigment is from freckles, sun damage, melasma, or anything else. So if you want to treat your melasma, be ready to have your skin be a smooth single color, without sun spots, freckles, or anything else.

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