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Addressing the Concerns of Asian Skin in the Spa

Posted: August 30, 2010

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Unmasking the mystery of melasma

Another common skin condition in Asians that can impact the appearance of the skin is melasma. Often referred to as the “mask of pregnancy,” melasma is characterized by brown patches commonly on the cheeks, upper lip, nose and forehead. While the exact cause of melasma is unknown, it is thought to result from a combination of genetic and hormonal factors, as well as UV exposure. Kundu reported that melasma is more common in women and in Hispanics and Asians.

Treatments for melasma include similar therapies used to treat pigmentation problems resulting from acne, such as bleaching agents, hydroquinone, topical retinoids and chemical peels. In addition, certain laser and light therapies have been shown to be safe and effective in Asians.

Kundu reported that fractionated lasers and intense-pulsed light (IPL) therapies can be performed safely in Asians, but cautioned that these procedures need to be administered carefully by dermatologists.

“In some cases, laser and light procedures can worsen melasma if they destroy pigment cells, which leave white spots in the treated areas,” said Kundu. “But they can be safe and effective in treating melasma, so patients need to discuss these procedures with their dermatologist to make sure they are good candidates first.”