What is melasma and can a chemical peel help?

Posted on the 20 February 2017 at 13:09

Melasma is a skin condition where the skin on your face makes too much of the brown pigment called melanin. This makes your skin develop brown patches which are difficult to hide with make-up and can get worse in the Summer when the skin is exposed to more ultraviolet light.

Quite often the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy cause melasma. Medications like the oral contraceptive pill can also cause it.

Melasma can be treated with a combination of a series of superficial chemical peels and professional skincare products like the Obagi Sunfader cream which I use. This topical skin cream is a prescription-only product that can only be given after a medical consultation. The combination of the peels and cream has been shown in studies to be a safe and effective way to treat melasma.

As with any medical procedure there are risks with this treatment programme. Most people don’t experience any down-time with a superficial chemical peel, but sometimes there is redness which can last for a few days or weeks. With any chemical peel there is a small risk of a reaction that could leave your skin looking darker (called post-inflammatory hyper pigmentation) or lighter (called post inflammatory hypo pigmentation). The Obagi Sunfader cream contains 4% hydroquinone so it shouldn’t be used for longer than three months at a time due to the rare occurrence of ochronosis (a permanent darkening of the skin caused by hydroquinone). If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, or trying to get pregnant then you shouldn’t have this treatment. If you have any sensitivities to any of the products then you also shouldn’t have this treatment.

I usually recommend one chemical peel per month for three months. The chemical peel takes away some of the cells on the very top layer of your skin, forcing it to renew itself. It is a fantastic way to rejuvenate your skin, leaving it healthier and younger looking with a fresh glow. I use the Dermaceutic Milk Peel for the treatment of melasma, which is a superficial chemical peel containing Glycolic acid, Salicylic acid and Lactic acid.

Expect to pay costs of approximately £60 for a chemical peel session for this treatments, plus the Obagi Sunfader cream costs around £70. Many clinics, like my own, offer a discount on a programme of chemical peel sessions. The cream is prescription-only so you will need a medical consultation with a doctor, dentist or prescribing nurse before this can be prescribed.

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