Black Light For Melasma Treatment

Black Light For Melasma Treatment

  Professionals / By  Jennifer Jones


Melasma is a common skin condition that causes patches of discoloration, typically on the cheeks, chin, forehead and nose, as well as on areas of the body often exposed to sunlight. While it is often visible to the naked eye, the problem can also manifest beneath the skin’s surface, remaining invisible until it becomes a more prominent issue.

Early detection plays a key role in improving melasma treatment, and researchers believe they now have the key: black light. While some believed that black light could help dermatologists diagnose melasma depth, researchers at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have discovered that this technology may help diagnose melasma that is otherwise invisible to the naked eye.

In this study, researchers quantitatively measured amounts of melasma detected using natural light and using black light, then compared the two. They discovered that black light did, in fact, detect melasma that was invisible in natural light. Researchers believe that this may be a valuable tool in detecting the skin condition early, treating melasma before it worsens and becomes a visible problem.

Black light highlights changes in the color or fluorescence of the skin, making otherwise invisible dark patches visible under the light. In patients without visible melasma, the black light in the study showed when the dark pigmentation was present within the skin, and likely to worsen and become visible without treatment.

According to researchers, early detection is critical as it allows patients to receive treatment before their condition worsens. Patients who are unaware of their condition may continue to expose themselves to ultraviolet radiation, worsening the damage. Early awareness of the condition can help dermatologists recommend treatments to reduce the dark pigmentation before it becomes visible, making black light a valuable tool in this industry.

Melasma can cause brown to gray-brown patches to appear on the cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin, but it can also occur on other areas of the body exposed to the sun. It is much more common in women than men, at a ratio of about nine to one, and often occurs in pregnant women, called chloasma or “the mask of pregnancy” in these cases. The condition is not medically harmful but the resulting uneven skin tone can make patients feel self-conscious about their appearance.

Although the causes of melasma are not completely clear, estrogen and progesterone levels can affect the condition, with contraceptive pills, hormone therapy, and pregnancy all being potential triggers. Those with dark skin are more prone to melasma than those with fair skin, and stress and thyroid disease may also be triggers. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause melasma to appear as it affects melanocytes, triggering excess pigment production.

While melasma will occasionally disappear on its own, especially if it was triggered by pregnancy or birth control pills, treatment is often necessary. Doctors recommend consistent sun protection, including sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher, wide-brimmed hats and protective clothing, as well as minimizing sun exposure, which reduces the chance that UV radiation will trigger hyperpigmentation.

Beyond this, doctors may also recommend brightening skin creams with ingredients such as hydroquinone or arbutin. Topical steroids may also help lighten skin, and treatments like microdermabrasion or chemical peels can exfoliate damaged skin cells to reveal lighter and brighter skin.

Early detection allows dermatologists to recommend treatments earlier, and advise them that time in the sun can cause discolored patches to appear. Doctors can recommend black light examinations to those with a known family history of or genetic predisposition to melasma and pregnant women, ensuring those at risk find out early if the condition is indeed developing.