Melasma And Estrogen Connection
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The medical condition of melasma is characterized by the discoloration of the facial skin. These patches of brown, tan, or blue-gray are mostly observed in the regions of the upper cheeks, upper lip, forehead, and the chin. Although melasma can occur in men as well, 90 percent of the times, females are victims of this condition especially those within the age bracket of 20 to 50 years.
Research highlights that the condition is prevalent in about 45 to 50 million women across the world and in approximately 6 million females in the United States. Some of the risk factors associated with melasma have been identified as sun exposure, use of birth control pills, hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, administration of hormone replacement therapy, family history and side effect to certain medications.
Ethnicity also seems to have a role to play in the incidence of melasma. Studies reveal a higher incidence of the condition in people with darker skins such as the Hispanics, Asians, and those from the Middle East.
Although the precise cause of melasma is still not understood with clarity, of all the causes unrestrained sun exposure is regarded as the chief cause for the occurrence of the condition, especially amongst those who have a family history of the same. Studies showcase higher probability of contracting melasma in the summers in contrast to the winter months. In light of these findings, the best preventive remedy recommended is guarding the skin against the harmful radiation of the sun by the application of sunscreens. Also, those susceptible to the disorder should try to minimize their exposure to the sun.
Melasma is known to have a correlation with the female reproductive hormones as well. Pregnant females in their second and third trimesters generally show a surge in the levels of estrogen, progesterone, and melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH). Elevated level of progesterone seems to be the main culprit for the incidence of this condition in pregnancy. This viewpoint is seconded by findings that highlight a higher prevalence of melasma in post menopausal women undergoing progesterone hormone replacement therapy in comparison to those subjected to estrogen hormone replacement therapy. Another cause of melasma could be the usage of certain skin products leading to higher synthesis of melanin. Finally, there is the category of those individuals who are genetically more susceptible to melasma. Those falling under this head should be extra cautious about avoiding sun exposure as much a possible or apply sufficient quantities of sun block while going out in the intense sun.
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