I read somewhere that melasma is partly caused by cells called "free radicals" and in a college nutrition class, we learned that antioxidants can control free radicals. Am I on the right track here?
Can a Diet Rich in Antioxidants Prevent Melasma?
Doctor Answers 1
Diet will not help prevent melasma
The idea that free radicals causes melasma has no basis in scientific reality. Either confabulatzia or somebody trying to sell you something. Melasma is the deposition of pigment on the face. This usually occurs on the cheekbones, nose, above the upper lip and sometimes along the jaw line.
The exact cause of melasma is not known. However, it is basically felt to be caused by the sun mixing with internal estrogens. Melasma mostly occurs in women in the child-bearing years. Since it may stick around without treatment, older women can display the dark discoloration of melasma. Interestingly, about 10 per cent of cases are male. Such men often have either an abnormal increase in the lutein hormone or a low testosterone level.
People of Asian, Afro-Caribbean, and Hispanic descent or most often affected. A curious area for melasma, is the area above the upper lip. I see many patients with this problem. It is caused by waxing this area. It is felt the heat from the waxing procedure makes the victim susceptible to the pigmentary deposit of melasma.
A treatment I like is Tyrostat Lotion in the morning and Tri-Luma at night. Tyrostat includes a plant product (the plant coming from Northwest Canada)along with arbutin. Tri-Luma includes hydroquinoine, a chemical which inhibits the action of tyrosinase, an enzyme that the melanoctye needs to make pigment, tretinoin ( Retin A which makes the cells move out faster and prevents pigment deposition, and a mild corticosteroid, which decreases inflammation. Probably the key to any melasma treatment is to avoid the sun and wear sunscreens. Otherwise any of the above measures will be fruitless.
These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.