Misunderstood and Often Untreated: Melasma, or ‘Paño,’ Affects Estimated Six Million Women

Misunderstood and Often Untreated: Melasma, or ‘Paño,’ Affects Estimated Six Million Women

Research Shows Melasma Negatively Affects Quality of Life for Hispanic Women, Often Worsens, Most Troubling in Fall Months


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San Francisco, CA–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–October 19, 2006–Each year, as summer turns to fall, many women in the Bay Area wonder what to do about skin problems that have appeared or worsened after summer sun exposure.

Monika Lee, 47, a Fremont mother of two, first noticed brown patches on her face a couple of years ago during a beach vacation to Mexico. “I became very embarrassed about the dark patches on my face. I tried to cover them up with foundation, but they were difficult to hide. I didn’t like looking in the mirror because all I could focus on was the spots,” explains Monika. “I thought that I just had to live with the problem.”

After a lengthy struggle with the dilemma of this mysterious skin condition, Monika made an appointment to see a dermatologist. She was surprised to learn there was a name for the condition: melasma, a hyper-pigmentation of the skin. Even more important, she was relieved to learn there was treatment.

Melasma affects an estimated six million American women and is one of the most common skin pigmentation conditions worsened by summer sun exposure. This skin disorder is characterized by dark spots or blotches on the face, forehead and neck. Although melasma is common in women of all races, Latina women have the highest prevalence of the condition.

Research documents that non-white patients have a 30 percent higher probability of pigmentation disorders than white patients. While 50 or 70 percent of pregnant women will exhibit some degree of melasma, the incidence of melasma in Hispanic pregnant women is as high as 80 percent. Of the Hispanic women who develop the condition during pregnancy, 30 percent will have the condition for a lifetime without proper treatment.

Melasma is known as “Paño” in Mexico and “manchas” (stains) or “mascara del embarazo” (mask of pregnancy) in Central and South America. The condition has negative connotations in Latin cultures; it is commonly considered to be disfiguring and is often associated with poor nutrition.

New research published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Dermatological Treatment states that the condition has a significant negative impact on quality of life issues, affecting social life, emotional well-being, physical health and even money matters. “Melasma has been proven to pose a substantial emotional and psychosocial burden on the women who have it,” said Dr. Sunil Dhawan, a Bay Area dermatologist. “It changes the way a person sees themselves. It changes the way others see that person. The condition literally changes a person’s ability to face the world”.

“Melasma may be caused by a hormonal imbalance, the use of oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy and is commonly referred to as the ‘mask of pregnancy,’” said Dr. Dhawan. “Genetics also plays a role. However, sun exposure can trigger or worsen the appearance of the condition. Fall is an ideal time to see your dermatologist to address any pigmentation issues and for an overall check-up and skin assessment.” Dr. Dhawan recommends anyone with the condition visit http://www.melasmafacts.com for more information and treatment options.

Monika said that with proper treatment, she soon began seeing a change. “After eight weeks, the spots were barely visible,” she said. “It was so easy to treat my melasma, I wish I had started sooner.”

“Tri-Luma(R) Cream is the only FDA-approved topical prescription treatment for melasma clinically proven to improve and frequently clear the condition after eight weeks of treatment,” said Dr. Dhawan. “In a society where appearance is important and valued, there is no reason to suffer when there is treatment readily available from your doctor.”

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Melasma facts –

— The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that melasma affects approximately six million Americans. Approximately 90 percent of the people with melasma are women.

— Melasma can be caused by an imbalance of hormones due to pregnancy, use of oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy; genetics also play a role.

— Sun exposure is a trigger factor. Melasma is most noticeable for many women in the fall months.

— Although melasma is common in women of all races, Latina women have the highest prevalence of the condition.

— Non-white patients have a 30 percent higher probability of pigmentation disorders than white patients.

— While 50 or 70 percent of pregnant women will exhibit some degree of melasma, the incidence of melasma in Hispanic pregnant women is as high as 80 percent. Of the Hispanic women who develop the condition during pregnancy, 30 percent will have the condition for a lifetime without proper treatment.

— Recent research published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment shows that melasma has a negative impact on quality of life. The condition affects social life, emotional well-being, physical health and even money matters. Specifically, melasma is associated with decreased social functioning, reduced productivity at work, negative fear of evaluation, anxiety and depression leading to social isolation and loneliness.

— For more information about melasma, visit http://www.MelasmaFacts.com.

Fair Balance for Tri-Luma(R) Cream (fluocinolone acetonide 0.01%, hydroquinone 4%, tretinoin 0.05%)

Mild-to-moderate redness, peeling, burning, dryness, or itching may be experienced. People with allergic reactions, such as asthma, to sulfites should not use Tri-Luma(R) Cream. The safety and efficacy of Tri-Luma(R) Cream in patients with skin types V and VI have not been studied. Excessive bleaching resulting in undesirable cosmetic effects in patients with darker skin cannot be excluded.

The safety and efficacy of Tri-Luma(R) Cream in pregnant women and nursing mothers have not been established. Tri-Luma(R) Cream contains hydroquinone, which may produce exogenous ochronosis, a gradual blue-black darkening of the skin, whose occurrence should prompt discontinuation of therapy. Tri-Luma(R) Cream contains the corticosteroid fluocinolone acetonide. Systematic absorption of topical corticosteroids can produce reversible hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis suppression with the potential for glucocorticoid insufficiency after withdrawal of treatment.

Exposure to sunlight, sunlamps, or UV light and extreme heat, wind, or cold should be avoided. Use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher is required. Wear protective clothing and change to nonhormonal forms of birth control if hormonal methods are used.

Misunderstood and Often Untreated: Melasma, or ‘Paño,’ Affects Estimated Six Million Women