You may not know it by name, but chances are you’ve seen it darkening the smile of a female friend or two.
Costhetics, your source for news and information about aesthetic enhancement, knows this is a problem for millions of people, especially women. We’re talking about a patchy area of discoloured skin on the upper lip area. It can range from tan to chestnut and is not-so-affectionately known as melasma moustache.
We want to help you address your moustache, if you wish… no razor required.
To get a handle on melasma and its dreaded moustache, it’s valuable to first understand hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is a broad term that describes a variety of conditions where the skin is unnaturally dark or discoloured. It’s caused by an over-production of pigment-making cells in the skin, which are attempting to protect themselves due to:
- UV exposure
- Acne scarring
- Post-eczema flare-up inflammation
- Freckles affected by sun exposure
Unfortunately, the surplus pigment these conditions trigger is absorbed deep into the skin where it becomes permanent, like a tattoo, and does not fade.
What is Melasma?
Melasma is a specific type of hyperpigmentation. It has a variety of causes, all of which are triggered by sunlight and heat. Melasma can be the result of the same factors that cause hyperpigmentation, but is also thought to be caused by hormonal influences from:
- Oral contraceptives
- Hormone therapies with estrogen or progesterone
“The problem is preventing (melasma from) worsening, especially from the hormonal angle, as it can be hard to remove the instigating factors,” reports Allure Magazine. Still another source of melasma is infrared heat. This one is difficult to avoid and just as difficult to guard against. Exposure to infrared heat can occur in any hot environment such as a gym, sauna, or even a hot kitchen.
Melasma’s Mask of Pregnancy
Hormonal shifts related to pregnancy often result in something called a mask of pregnancy. In addition to a melasma moustache, mothers commonly develop brown or grey-brown patches on the:
- Bridge of the nose
Melasma doesn’t stop there, however. Today we’re talking primarily about melasma as it affects facial skin, but the condition can appear anywhere on the body that is exposed to the sun.
“Melasma associated with pregnancy has the best chance of improvement with pigment gradually fading over months,” says the Australian College of Dermatologists, noting that it, “often recurs in subsequent pregnancies.”
Do I Have Melasma?
How do you know if you have melasma? The condition is usually identified by someone who noticed a change in the colour and pattern of the pigment on their skin. This should lead to a visit to a skin care specialist in your area, or dermatologist, for a confirmation on any self-diagnosis.
“A small sample of skin (biopsy) may be taken to confirm the diagnosis and exclude other causes of increased pigmentation,” says the Australasian College of Dermatologists. Don’t worry. In the hands of a professional, this process is not as scary as it sounds, and the information it reveals can be critical to your overall health, not just your skin health.
Mastering Melasma: Prevention is Best
Sun protection is the super-hero in the melasma-verse. Professionals recommend:
- Broad spectrum SPF30+ sunscreen – Apply 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and then re-apply every two hours. (This is good advice for everyone’s skin!)
- Hats, sunglasses and protective clothing
These safeguards are especially important if you are taking a course of hormones.
Say Farewell to Your Melasma Moustache at Home
As we wrote above, hormonal factors make melasma moustache a tough enemy. There are at-home solutions, including prescription creams. Talk with your skin therapist or doctor to learn more about proven melasma-fighting ingredients including:
- Kojic acid
- Vitamin C
- Liquorice extract
How Professionals Treat Melasma Moustache
Professionally administered treatments offering longer-lasting results involving melasma patches include:
- Laser therapy
- Chemical peels
- Topical bleaching agents
A well-trained, experienced practitioner is key to successfully treating melasma moustache or any hyperpigmentation of the skin. Someone well-versed in the various treatments can create a specialised treatment plan or combination plan that could include a peel, as well as lasers. Someone without the proper training may perform treatments that actually make the problem worse!
Most doctors say a minimum of three monthly treatments are required for optimal results. Follow-up treatments every six months are likely to be necessary to maintain the results.
Is melasma moustache darkening your lip and your mood? Costhetics can help. Contact our team to find a doctor near you.