How do dermatologists diagnose melasma?
Dermatologists can diagnose most patients by looking at their skin. To see how deeply the melasma penetrates the skin, your dermatologist may look at your skin under a device called a Wood’s light.
Sometimes melasma can look like another skin condition. To rule out another skin condition, your dermatologist may need to remove a small bit of skin. This procedure is called a biopsy. A dermatologist can safely and quickly perform a biopsy during an office visit.
How do dermatologists treat melasma?
Melasma can fade on its own. This often happens when a trigger is causing the melasma, such as a pregnancy or birth control pills. When the woman delivers the baby or stops taking the birth control pills, melasma can fade.
Some people, however, have melasma for years — or even a lifetime. If the melasma does not go away or a woman wants to keep taking birth control pills, melasma treatments are available. These include:
Ask your dermatologist about possible side effects (health problems that can result from the treatment).
If you notice any of the following after treating melasma, be sure to call your dermatologist:
Under a dermatologist’s care, many people with melasma have a good outcome. Melasma can be stubborn, though. It may take a few months of treatment to see improvement. It is important to follow your dermatologist’s advice. This ensures that you get the most benefit from treatment. It also can help avoid skin irritation and other side effects.
After your melasma clears, you may need to keep treating your skin. Your dermatologist may call this maintenance therapy. Maintenance therapy can prevent melasma from returning.
You can help prevent your melasma from returning by wearing sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat every day.
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