Melasma, Sun Damage and Cool Hats and Clothing.

Hi Dr. Irwin. I saw your post on spring and melasma. I experienced melasma starting when I was pregnant in my 20's. I created The Tiki Hat, a UPF 50+ hat and scarf, that stylishly protects your face, neck and shoulders. Can you take a look at my site and see if it may benefit some of your patients? I so appreciate your help., or All the best to you, Cheryl

It’s peak UVA time in the northern hemisphere again.  That’s when melasma especially, and pigment in general get worse!

What you can do to help your melasma and pigment problems:

  • Wear a high zinc sunscreen (15-20%) every morning and reapply often if outside. Zinc blocks more UVA and UVB combined than any other sunscreen ingredient.
  • Double layer your sunscreen.  For example, use your Dermaquest sunscreen (18% zinc) and over that the Colorescience powder.
  • Wear a brimmed hat that shades your face and neck
  • Use a high quality antioxidant under your sunscreen in the morning.  Has been shown to inhibit pigment.
  • Have your dermatologist or primary care prescribe a 4% hydroquinone cream for you.  Triluma is the best.  Keep in mind that about 10% get worse on this, so stop it if you are getting worse.
  • Use a plant based lightening cream (hydroquinone free)  at night under your moisturizer

Sun damage, precancerous lesions (actinic keratoses AKs), skin cancers and melasma can all be improved or prevented with good sun protection for those of us who are susceptible.   There is a direct relationship between skin cancer and skin type.  Skin type is how light or dark your skin is, and is genetic.  Darker skin types have more melanin (pigment) and are more protected from skin cancers naturally.  But keep in mind that melasma and uneven pigment affect all of us regardless of skin type.

Melasma is also different because it’s a combination of hormones and sun that cause it.  Men almost never have it.  And we women often get it related to pregnancies, HRT, and oral contraceptives.  It’s a big club, and I’m in it too.  If you have melasma, and are on oral contraceptives, please see your gynecologist to discuss alternatives.

Fun sites and ways to protect yourself:

Hope this helps,

Dr. B

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

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