As much as we love our little red dot, one of the biggest complaints we have is the hot and humid weather. Besides being sticky and sweaty most of the time, being near the equator also means having a higher percentage of UV rays shining down on us and that is definitely bad news for our skin.
Too much sun exposure causes pigmentation and aging, and melasma is one of the common skin problems that many Singaporean women face. For the uninitiated, melasma is a tan or dark skin discolouration that is usually found at the upper cheek area. Sun exposure is the primary cause of melasma, but hormonal changes during pregnancy and genetics can play a part too. All these factors may cause our melanocytes, which are the colour-making cells in our skin, to become overactive causing discolouration on our skin.
Although there is technically no cure for melasma, there are treatments available to helps us minimise it. What are some of the dos and don’ts to prevent or minimise melasma?
- DO NOT skip sunscreen
Whether you are trying to prevent pigmentation, or are already plagued by it, it is recommended that you wear sunscreen everyday, even when you are indoors. Make sure that the sunscreen you are using is a broad-spectrum sunscreen that can protect you against both UVA and UVB rays. Remember to reapply sunscreen after every 3 to 4 hours, especially if you are outdoors.
- DO put on a hat
If you know that you will be under direct sunlight for the day, it is advisable to put on a sun hat for that extra protection.
- DO buy an umbrella that comes with UV protection
That short walk out from the office to the coffee shop for lunch don’t matter? Yes, it does! The sun at 12pm is the strongest so always remember to protect yourself from the merciless sun rays. Most office ladies use umbrellas to hide from the sun, but do you know that the type of umbrella matters too? To be well-protected from the UV rays, get an umbrella that has got UV protection. Look out for the labels on the umbrella before you make your next purchase.
- DO get topical creams from your doctor
See your doctor to get a prescription for topical creams that help diminish skin discolouration. Creams containing hydroxy quinone, tretinoin, topical steroids, alpha hydroxy acid creams, azelic acid or kojic acid are effective in fighting against melasma but do note that you should only use them at night.
- DO NOT continue with the pill
Continuing with your birth control pill will undo any effects of melasma treatments that you are undergoing as the rise in female hormones is one of the causes of melasma.
- DO check out chemical peels
A light chemical peel can help to alleviate the condition of your melasma. The peel is designed to lighten blemishes and resistant pigmentation and brighten our complexion quickly and effectively. However, it is recommended that you see the doctor first to find out whether it is suitable for you.