Understanding Melasma from a Chinese Medicine Perspective

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Melasma is a common skin condition in which dark patches appear on the skin, most commonly on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, upper lip, and chin – areas of the face that receive the most sun exposure. It can affect anyone, although the vast majority of people with melasma are women. Commonly seen in women of childbearing age, it is believed to be the combined result of sun exposure, hormones, and genetic susceptibility.
UV exposure is the single most important risk factor for melasma development. With melasma, ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun over-stimulates the melanocytes – the skin cells which produce skin color. In fact, just a small amount of sun exposure can cause melasma to return after fading. Because of this, melasma tends to become worse in the summer months. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat, and applying sunscreen of SPF 50 or higher is recommended.

Melasma can be influenced by the female hormones estrogen and progesterone, especially during or after pregnancy, or if taking fertility drugs oral contraceptives, or hormone replacement drugs. Foods rich in phytoestrogens, such as soybeans, soy milk and soybean oil, can also influence melasma development, and therefore should be avoided in people with melasma.

It is also believed that genetic influences make some individuals more susceptible to UV exposure and hormonal influences.

In addition, stress and lack of sleep can affect the hormones, making the melasma worse. It is recommended to get at least 7 or 8 hours of quality sleep each night. The best times for optimal sleep are between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am. Gentle exercise, such as tai chi, walking, or yoga, and various stress management techniques, such as meditation, are highly beneficial additions to the management of melasma.

Merry Clinic’s highly effective melasma herbal formula, Melasma RF, works by balancing the hormones, increasing blood circulation to the skin, and nourishing the skin in order to improve the complexion. In addition to using the Melasma RF formula, we recommend using the Dermova Lightening cream. Containing a combination of 2% hydroquinone and gentle botanical ingredients, this cream gently fades the skin discolorations of melasma. The hydroquinone commonly prescribed by medical doctors normally contains between 4-8% hydroquinone – this amount makes the skin highly photosensitive, which can make the melasma worse.

Merry Clinic’s melasma treatment approach of treating both internal and external causes is a gentle and effective way to improve your complexion. Unlike using lightening cream alone, with the combination of Melasma RF and lightening cream, the melasma is not likely to return.

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Teresa is a California licensed acupuncturist in San Francisco, CA

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