Both can cause darkening of the skin on the face but the cause is different as are some of the treatments. Hyper-pigmentation usually is the result of inflammation and sun damage, think dark spots on the skin from acne or eczema or sun spots that arise from sun damage (a side effect of being a horse person). Melasma on the other hand, is more hormonal and more commonly seen in women in reproductive years, on an oral contraceptive, insulin resistance, or with a hormonal imbalance. These difference are important because it influences the treatment. While intense pulsed light (aka IPL or photo facial) can help hyperpigmentation by targeting the pigment and bringing it to the surface where it will eventually flake off. This will not help melasma and will in fact make it worse. Hydroquinone is one of the mainstay treatments for melasma and is also effective with good old fashioned hyper-pigmentation. Usually a higher strength such as 6% or more is needed for significant discoloration and we mix our own in the office to meet your needs. However, speeding the process up with another skin treatment such as micro needling and specialty skin peel that will not make melasma worse or a fractional laser treatment are all excellent choices in conjunction with an HQ. Of course with both conditions you want to address the underlying problem so that you can treat the cause not try and just bandaid this issue. Fortunately we can help you with all of the above whether it’s controlling and treating melasma or getting you hyper pigmentation under control by addressing your acne and resurfacing your skin.
For more information please contact the office to schedule a free consultation at 480-419-6996