Nikki Sommer, a nurse with Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5 FM for Medical Matters this morning.
A brunch on November 2 at the Key West Surgical Group will show a demonstration on the PicoSure pro laser system, which can help with tattoo removal and skin pigmentation issues.
Sommer said, “Melasma is a common pigmentation disorder. A lot of women have it. It’s more common in women than men. Men can have it, but it’s patches of skin, primarily on the face, and they appear darker than the surrounding skin. Usually found with people with light brown skin or darker skin tones. It gets worse when you’re exposed to sun. So you’ll have those areas of dark and light, contrast. It can be anywhere on the body, primarily the face. I think the face is the one that everyone is concerned about because that’s what everybody sees first. For a lot of people, it’s an image. I know a lot of women that cannot leave the house without putting makeup on. It’s about self confidence. I just want to be able to walk out of my house without putting makeup on.”
The forearms, the neck, and the shoulders can also have melasma.
Sommer said, “Causes and risk factors are sun exposure. Frequent exposure to UV rays can trigger melasma. If you live down here, it is sunny 12 months out of the year, give or take a day or two when it’s overcast for an entire day. Just walking, going shopping in and out of stores, you’re still exposed to the sun.”
Some medications can cause melasma.
Sommer said, “Certain medications and hormones can cause melasma. There’s certain blood pressure medications and anti seizure medications can make you more sensitive to the sun. Even antibiotics. That’s why a lot of times if you’ve ever been put on an antibiotic, there’s a big warning label that says please avoid sun exposure. It can cause you to burn and skin discoloration.”
Women are nine times more likely than men to develop melasma.
Sommer said, “It has a lot has to do with hormones, even birth control pills, because it regulates your hormones. It has been known known to cause what’s called hyper pigmentation or melasma. Pregnancy, a lot of women will get it because of the shift in hormones, and it will go away once those hormones go back to normal after the baby’s born. However, a lot of women, it sticks with them. I’ve met a lot of women that said, I’ve never had trouble with my skin. I got pregnant with my children, and now it won’t go away.”
A high SPF sunscreen can help prevent it.
Sommer said, “And if you have it, prevent it from getting worse. There are certain treatments that you can try, usually they’re topical treatments, Hydroquinone. It’s a lotion or cream or a gel and it works by lightening the color of the skin patches. You really should only put it on the patches that are darker. It can irritate other areas of the skin.”
There are other creams, too.
Sommer said, “Corticosteroids or tretinoin, these are all topical creams. Tretinoin, I know they have over the counter brands. Corticosteroids, they might have some over the counter, usually they’re prescription. Dermatologists usually will do some type of combination cream for really tough areas for people that have tried and failed treatments in the past. Talking to people that have melasma there are certain treatments that make it worse make it better. They really don’t know why. It’s individual based care. Some people will do creams and it works great and other people it will work for a little while and then it doesn’t. So it’s really a hard little skin issue to combat.”
Micro dermabrasion, chemical peels and laser treatments can also be helpful.
The PicoSure pro provides short pulses of laser energy at a trillionth of a second, or a pico second.
Sommer said, “It breaks up those areas of dark pigmentation, the freckles, melasma sunspots, age spots, acne scars, and just different types of hyperpigmentation. There’s almost no risk of damaging the skin around it. So if you’re with a laser and you hit an area that’s not darker than the other, it’s not going to hurt the regular skin on your face, or your body.
The PicoSure laser also activates the body’s natural immune response.
Sommer said, “It’s kind of like we’re damaging your skin for it to repair itself and make it better. Also, new collagen elastin production, so you’ll have a more even tone, smoother, and fewer visible wrinkles. So why not? It doesn’t use heat. It uses that thermal pressure, so it penetrates below the skin surface. It causes damage, but that damage is to get your skin to regenerate.”
The laser can be seen at the brunch at Key West Surgical Group on November 2 from 11am to 2pm.
Sommer said, “It would be better if you RSVP. However, if you’re in the area and you want to stop by we’re not going to turn anybody away. There will be live demonstrations. If you do RSVP, we’ll try and get those RSVP people into the demonstration, but obviously the more the merrier. Come on down.”