Melasma: Causes, Prevention & Treatment Options In Singapore

Share Article

Due to Singapore’s tropical climate, which results to frequent sunny days, skin pigmentation problems are prevalent among its citizens. One of the most common of these skin problems is melasma, which is characterized by brown to grey-brown patches on skin areas such as the:

  • Cheeks
  • Forehead
  • Nose bridge
  • Above the lips
  • Chins
  • Neck
  • Forearms

Melasma is a lot more prevalent in women, who represent almost 90% of all cases. This is because during pregnancy, the increased production of hormones such as estrogen triggers the appearance of melasma patches in women.

What causes melasma?

Medical statistics have shown that women and people with a darker complexion are much more prone to develop the skin condition. Genetics also appear to have an effect on its development as melasma is much more likely to appear if you have a family member with the skin condition.

As of now, melasma’s exact causes have not yet been determined. However, most medical professionals have agreed and accepted that a big influence on the appearance of melasma is when the skin’s melanocytes produce too much melanin.

Other possible causes of melasma include the following:

1. Exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet radiation

Frequent exposure to the sun’s radiation stimulates your melanocytes to produce more melanin, which in turn causes the appearance of melasma. It is advised when going outside to wear as much sun protection as you can or to avoid going outside altogether, especially during the summer.

2. Hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy

Melasma is common in pregnant women, as the body starts producing more hormones such as estrogen to prepare the woman for pregnancy. Due to the prevalence of the condition during pregnancy, melasma is also known as the “mask of pregnancy” and has its own medical term called chloasma. Melasma can also be triggered by artificial hormonal changes such as through the intake of steroids or birth control pills. Melasma may disappear in time especially if it is caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy or the intake of birth control pills or steroids. After pregnancy or discontinuation of the pills, melasma should eventually fade and there should be no need for treatment.

3. Incompatible skin care products

Some skin care products may be incompatible with your skin and can cause irritation. This can lead to the worsening of the melasma patches and may induce it to appear more frequently.

What are the treatment options for melasma that are available in Singapore?

As mentioned in the beginning of this article, skin pigmentation issues and Melasma in particular are quite common in Singapore. Naturally, the demand for solutions of these problems has been filled and many aesthetic clinics like One Face Clinic offer a variety of options for melasma treatment as well as other skin conditions. Here are some of the treatment options that are more commonly used:

  • Lightening Creams
  • Hydroquinone

A topical skin-bleaching agent, hydroquinone is the most frequently recommended first treatment for melasma. It interferes with the melanocytes and stops or slows them from producing melanin. Hydroquinone comes in many forms, and at lower concentrations can be purchased without a prescription as a cream, gel, emulsion or lotion.

  • Tretinoin

Mostly used for treating acne, tretinoin has also been effective in treating melasma patches, especially when administered with corticosteroids.

  • Corticosteroids

Although mainly used for treating asthma and rashes, clinical trials have shown that a combination of tretinoin and some corticosteroids is an effective topical treatment for melasma.

2. Skin Resurfacing Methods

Skin resurfacing methods such as chemical peels and dermabrasion may be undergone if the above topical treatment options aren’t effective. Remember to consult with your doctor to ensure that you are ready for the procedure.

3. Microneedling

Another option for treating melasma is through the procedure called microneedling. In this minimally invasive procedure, a machine punctures a micro wound on the top layer of the skin using several tiny little needles. This promotes skin healing and rejuvenation which in turn will also reduce the appearance of melasma patches. Although some devices are sold to the public that supposedly does microneedling, it is still safer to undergo this treatment at the supervision of an experienced doctor.

4. Laser treatments

One of the most effective treatments for melasma is through laser procedures. Although a bit costlier compared to other treatment options, laser treatments offer a variety of advantages. Firstly, it is non-invasive procedure, which means there is no need to puncture or cut the skin. It is also a very quick procedure (about 15 minutes) with minimal downtime for the patient. The treatment works by targeting melasma patches with the laser, which alters the structure of melanin. The patches will look a bit darker after the procedure, but this is no cause for worry as your body will eventually dissolve the melanin deposits. After a few days, the patches will peel and flake off your skin. With that said, lasers should probably be the last resort and used only when other options have yielded none or insignificant results.

What can I do to prevent melasma?

People say that prevention is always better than cure, and this age-old adage also rings true for melasma. The following tips aren’t just effective in preventing melasma but other skin pigmentation conditions as well. Here are a few tips to help you prevent melasma and other skin pigmentation concerns:

  • Make sunscreen an everyday thing

One of the most common causes of melasma, as well as other skin conditions such as skin cancer, is sunlight and UV radiation exposure, both of which can be stopped or at least have their effects lessened by the wearing of an industry-standard sunscreen or sunblock. If you can avoid going outside the better, but if it is not an option then wear a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Even on a mostly cloudy day, the sun’s UV radiation can still reach your skin so make wearing sunscreen a part of your daily routine.

  • Wear sun-protective clothing

Although a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more is an effective shield for ultraviolet radiation, it doesn’t offer total protection. Wearing hats and clothes that cover your skin further increases your sun protection and will prevent your skin from developing skin pigmentation problems. 

Take care of your skin

Besides prevention and treatment for melasma, it is just as important that every person follows a general skin care routine to also improve skin quality and appearance. Not everyone’s skin is the same, and some skin products may be incompatible with yours and can cause skin irritation. Irritable skin increases the chance of developing skin pigmentation problems, which is why it is advised to use gentle skin products that have a lower chance of irritating the skin. Your skin will thank you for it.


Related Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • Connect With Us

  • Verified by MonsterInsights