We’ve spoken lots about melasma – the most common skin pigment disorder – in all its various forms. Hyperpigmentation, chloasma (pregnancy-related) – you name it, we’ve covered it (and then some). And while there are countless effective treatments (many offered by us here at Lovoir), their efficiency relies heavily on targeting the underlying condition, too – especially if you want to get rid of melasma forever. So just what are the root causes of melasma and how can you cure them? Allow us to explain!
What is melasma? A quick recap
A condition that causes brown patches to appear on the skin as a result of hyperpigmentation (an overproduction of melanocytes – the cells that produce skin pigmentation), it is typically seen around the nose, forehead, chin, cheeks and around the mouth.
So, how can it be cured from the inside?
One of the most common causes of melasma is a hormone imbalance, helping to explain why it affects more women than men. The melanocytes are triggered by abnormal hormone levels, which often occurs before, during or after pregnancy. There’s not much that can be done in the way of rebalancing hormones around the throes of pregnancy (although lots of ways to mitigate the effects of chloasma which you can read about here), but you may want to talk to your GP about trying different types of contraception if you suffer from the condition outside of it.
Pregnancy and contraception are not the only things that can cause a hormone imbalance, however. Poor liver health, thyroid problems and stress can also be contributing factors, and they can be cured internally by other methods, too.
A healthy diet is one of the best ways to improve liver health, thyroid problems and stress. Just a few examples of liver-friendly foods/drinks include:
- Water and green tea
- Cabbage, avocados, tomatoes
- Leafy greens, such as spinach
- Reduced sugar, alcohol and processed foods
Thyroid problems can be mitigated with the help of:
- Dairy produce
Stress can be combatted by:
- Chamomile tea
Other diet-related things to consider include:
- Kojic acid. There’s a good reason we proudly offer DP Dermaceuticals Britelite as part of our melasma treatment products as it’s full of kojic acid, which helps to ‘mute’ pigmentation. But there’s no excuse for not including it in your diet, too! Kojic acid is created when certain foods ferment, so can be found in rice wine, sake and soy sauce. Time to start experimenting with Japanese recipes, we think!
- Vitamin C.Vitamins for melasma treatment, in general, are a must. This one, in particular, helps to ‘lighten, brighten and tighten’ the skin. Citrus fruits and other brightly coloured fruits and vegetables are great sources of this.
- Hydroquinone. While this powerful skin lightener – working by blocking the enzyme that converts dopamine to melanin – is a common ingredient in treating the condition and can bring about highly effective results, you should only use this in topical cream form as a last resort and when advised by a dermatologist as it can cause permanent skin discolouration if too high a concentration is used. However, it can also be found naturally in foods such as wheat products, berries, pears, coffee and tea.
- DIM (Diindolylmethane).Found in vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, this helps your body regulate hormone levels.
- Indole 3 Carbinol.Also found in vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale, this also helps your body break down estrogen.
- All of the above can, of course, be taken in supplement form, too. Another hormone balancing supplement to look out for is zinc picolinate.
Improving mental health
Ensuring you look after your mind is equally as important as physical health in combatting melasma – especially because of its link to stress. As a result, try to do the following:
- Keep calm.Yes, easier said than done – especially in relation to current events – but minimising stress can have a huge impact on your hormones. This is because hormones respond to stress by secreting cortisol, which is great when you’re in fight or flight mode but less so if it happens too often as this can lead to an imbalance of other hormones. Try meditation, deep breathing exercises or snuggling into the sofa with a Netflix boxset on the go – whatever works for you!
- Sleep. Anything less than eight hours’ sleep a night can also be a stressor, so do everything you can to switch off earlier – be it phones, lights or even domestic chores. It can always wait until tomorrow.