Sun Spots Vs Melasma

How are Melasma and Sun Spots Different?

Sun spots and melasma can easily be confused for one another, as both reveal hyperpigmentation of the skin. Hyperpigmentation is a common condition in which patches of skin become darker than the surrounding skin. Although sun spots and melasma may look similar, these skin conditions have many differences and the best way to differentiate between the two is to determine the root cause of the skin discoloration.

Melasma is the result of an irregularity in the skin’s pigment-producing cells, usually due to hormonal fluctuations. The irregularities present in these cells can subsequently cause unwanted pigmentation. Melasma has a strong correlation with hormonal changes, such as pregnancy, menopause and oral contraceptives. 

Sun spots, on the other hand, develop closer to the surface of the skin and are therefore much easier to treat than melasma.The main cause of sun spots is overexposure to UV rays from the sun, although other known culprits that cause the condition are are yeast, natural pigmentation, hypomelanosis and even certain types of fungus.

With an individualized treatment plan that includes regular use of topical medications and several laser sessions, melasma can be contained and reduced, while sun damage has the potential of being totally cured. Both melasma and sun damage can be treated with q-switched lasers, like Lutronic’s Spectra laser, and elos lasers, like Syneron’s FotoFacial RF laser. These laser technologies are used to break-down the pigment-producing skin cells that cause the hyperpigmentation of the skin.

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