Around 20-30% of population in Bahrain suffer from melasma, 90% are women. According to Dr. Husain Mahdi, Consultant Dermatologist at Royal Bahrain Hospital, “Melasma is a common condition, which presents itself with brown patches on the face, mostly on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, and forehead. People with darker skin, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean descent are more likely to get melasma.”
Research has yet to conclude what actually causes melisma. The condition occurs when the color-making cells in the skin (melanocytes) produce too much color. Thus, people with dark skin are more prone to melasma because they have more active melanocytes than those with light skin. Additionally, some studies showed some genetic predisposition.
The most common triggers include sun exposure, as the ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun stimulates the melanocytes, making melisma more common in the summer. Another is a change in hormones, which is why pregnant women often get melasma. Also, contraceptive pills and hormone replacement medicine may trigger melasma too.
Dr. Husain advises wearing sunscreen every day to prevent melisma from getting worse. Applying it year round, every day 20 or 30 minutes before you go out will keep you safe. Remember to reapply after 2 to 4 hours. “Be sure to use sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays) and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more.” Advises Dr. Mahdi.
“Also, I must warn that you must not use unknown products for whiting or bleaching, because some may have toxic elements like mercury.” Says Dr. Mahdi. “A dermatologist could offer you the right treatment plan starting from medically approved bleaching creams to Fraxel laser depending on the severity.”
Many people will ask what to do in the meantime, and Dr. Mahdi assures people that applying make-up to the area is safe. “As long as you use a clinically tested brand, it should be fine.”
Dr. Husain Ali Mahdi [BSc, MD, CABD] is a Consultant Dermatologist at Royal Bahrain Hospital’s Royal Aesthetic Center. To book your appointment, call 17246939 or visit www.royalbahrainhospital.com