What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

How I'm Successfully Treating My Melasma

A few days ago, I shared tips on beauty from the kitchen.  Essentially this is using natural foods like cucumber, milk, lemon juice and oatmeal in place of chemically laden beauty products that can have a toxic effect on your body.  I have been battling melasma for about 15 years now and let me tell you it is a costly battle.  Melasma is a skin disorder that results in large patches of hyper-pigmentation similar to freckles or age spots but a lot larger.  It can be in the epidermis giving a brownish look to the patches or in the deeper dermis resulting in blueish-black patches.  By far, melasma in the epidermis is easier to treat.  The problem is, many of the treatments used to correct melasma are not only toxic to the body but they can actually make the condition worse.  Here are some I tried that were somewhat successful but had negative results:

  • hydroquinone -  Hydroquinone is a chemical skin bleach available as a cream or gel.  It costs about $12 for a small tube so overall can become rather costly for long term treatment of melasma.  While hydroquinone can be rather effective after using for several months, one of the side effects is developing melasma in the dermis so even though your brownish patches are gone or considerably lighter, the blueish-black patches appear.  I used hydroquinone on and off during the early stages but never would have if I had known it could make my melasma worse.  The biggest problem I had with hydroquinone was constant diarrhea, a clear indication it was a toxin for my body.  I won't use it or any product with hydroquinone in it again!
  • the mask - My dermatologist used a mask to treat the melasma.  It went on clear then turned a horrible brownish yellow and had to be left on for 8 hours.  When I removed the mask, my face was a bright red (inflammation) and remained that way for 4 days.  I was physically sick the entire time (toxic).  Then it was onto special creams to stop my melasma from reverting.  They made me sick and the melasma obviously didn't read the book.
  • laser treatment -  Laser treatment for melasma is performed by a dermatologist as an outpatient.  The treatment is painful and the blotches form small scabs that fall off.  The patches are not fully eliminated but rather there is more clear spots in the patches.  Repeated treatments result in additional clearing.  It is costly.  I paid about $2,000 over the course of a year. The problems with laser treatment are not only does it damage hair cells it damages skin cells so the melasma actually gets worse.
  • alpha-hydroxy peels - An alpha-hydroxy peel brightens your skin by removing the top layer of the epidermis making melasma appear to be lighter.  Using an alpha-hydroxy peel becomes part of the weekly routine for combating melasma.  Continued use can be costly.  The biggest problem with alpha-hydroxy peels is they make you skin more susceptible to sun damage and skin cancer
  • MSM (methylsufonylmethane) - MSM in high doses has been reported to reduce the effects of melasma.  The problem is you have to take it in high doses which for me really affected my stomach as in vomiting shortly after taking a dose and I tried everything including eating before taking it.  I found I could work my way up to 1,000 mg a day but after that I got the ill effects.  It was nowhere near the suggested 20,000 mg a day for dealing with melasma.  
I finally got tired of dealing with the melasma - mainly the constant trips to the dermatologist, painful treatments and toxic effects on my body.  I decided to go as natural as possible treating both internally and externally.  The end result has been a marked improvement in my melasma plus I have extra space in the vanity cabinet and more money in my pocket.  My melasma is to the point of being barely noticeable.  Here's what I'm doing that is working for me:
  • hydration - Keeping the body hydrated is one of the primary ways to have healthy, glowing skin.  It lessens the appearance of melasma as well as help remove toxins from your body that can promote melasma.  I drink a lot of water to keep my body well hydrated as well as 
  • sun exposure - I avoid sun exposure other than to get enough daily for healthy Vitamin D production.  I always apply a high SPF (110) sunblock to my face even on cloudy day and most day three or four times.  But, I am also very conscious about getting in a daily walk.
  • Vitamin C -  Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin so you can't over dose.  It is an anti-oxidant that is commonly found in OTC creams for dealing with blotchy skin.  I mega dose on Vitamin C at 2,000 mg three times a day (6,000 mg total daily).  I know you can easily go higher by my stomach gets irritated when I take more that 6,000 mg daily.  Externally, I use Vitamin C in the form of lemon juice that has long been used for removing age spots.  I just squeeze the juice from a lemon then apply at least once daily.  Lemon juice can give a temporary tingling sensation and make your face feel a bit tighter but other than that it does work well with no other side effects.
  • Vitamin A - Vitamin A is found in the retinol products for skin peels as retinoid acid.  I use a dietary supplement for Vitamin A.  Externally, I use milk on my face to promote the production of new skin cells.  I've also used yogurt as a mask that works just as nicely plus I eat yogurt daily.
  • Vitamin E - Vitamin E is a rather powerful anti-oxidant.  I feel I get enough Vitamin E through my diet so don't use a dietary supplement but I do use olive oil that is rich in Vitamin E on my face nightly.  It eliminates the dryness of lemon juice yet helps to reduce the melasma.
  • aloe vera - Aloe vera is a wonderful moisturizer that erases the effects of sun exposure.  I was told in Aruba that aloe vera actually fades any tan you get during the day.  I use it morning and night.  While I do have an aloe vera plant that is regularly harvested, I use so much of it I have to buy the gel.  Some aloe vera gels contain colourants and alcohol so it is very important to buy a certified organic aloe vera gel with no parabens, artificial colours or synthetic fragrances.  
  • avoid food additives -  I really haven't seen this mentioned on a lot of sites but I avoid any food additives that I can.  I am convinced that food additives can affect hormones in women that will lead to the development of melasma.  We rely on home canned foods, home frozen foods and foods cooked from scratch using whole ingredients.
  • the cover-ups - Many with melasma resort to cover-up make-up and there are a lot of good brands out there.  I don't unless it is a special occasion and even then go very minimal.  Cover-ups make your face look great and block UV penetration but they have a lot of toxins in them.  I use Vichy Dermablend ultra-corrective foundation cream stick for those times I really want to hide the melasma.  This is an amazing product that really does hide melasma and other skin blemishes nicely.  It is on the expensive side at about $40 per tube but you don't need much of it.   The Vichy Dermablend does work and it protects against sun exposure as well.  I got a colour matched to my natural skin colour then apply with a make-up brush to just the blotches and blend in the edges with a make-up sponge.
  • sunblock - I wear a high SPF sunblock 24/7 and reapply every 2 hours when I know I will be outdoors.  Even indoors you can be exposed to UV through windows and lighting so with melasma it is very important to keep that sunblock on the patches.  It is hard to find a good sunblock that doesn't make your face look greasy.  The best I have come up with to date is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-touch Sunscreen SPF 110 with helioplex.  This sunblock is waterproof, sweatproof, non-comedogenic, oil free and PABA free but more importantly is works well.  As sunblocks go it is a bit more expensive somewhere around $12 for a 3 oz tube but if using only on the face, that tube lasts a fair length of time.   


Sarah Craft said...

Thank you for this blog post. I have been struggling with melasma for years. Creams have not really worked. I have gone off birth control. I feel at a loss. It is horribly embarrassing when kids point out that I am "growing a mustache" when really it is dark skin. I hate to have my picture taken and I am losing out on photos with my little girls because of it. I am going to try some of your tips and pray for success. Thanks again... Sarah

Andrea Pulex said...

Hi! First of all, thanks for all these valuable info. I've been dealing with melasma for years now, and lately I'm turning like you , to a natural holistic treatment.
I want to follow your healthy face routine, could you be so kind to tell me what goes after what.. First I wash my face with goat milk soap, then the lemon, then the sunblock? And in between what I can put the aloe vera? I really appreciate if you could pls tell me the order I have to follow day and night. Big thanks!..
Ps: ive tried the lemon.. but now my brown patches are very red ..is that expected? I did it a night ago.. and still red.
Thanks for taking the time to read my comment.

Anonymous said...

I have almost completely removed the melasma I've been fighting for the past 4 years. All I do is cover my face in a thick layer of Aloe Vera Moisturizer each morning and night. The 100% aloe vera gel you buy at the grocery store also works. I also take 2000 mgs of vitamin C each day and stay out of the sun (use sun block). I'm telling you, the aloe vera is the game changer. I thought I would have horrible brown dirty looking cheeks forever, and now I hardly notice what is left on the left cheek. A couple more months and it will be gone!

Anonymous said...

Thank you all. I am a Hispanic women in my 40s and a mom of 5. I am so embarrassed to go out in public. And when I do- people look at me as if I am a freak. I am very self conscious about myself because of it. I am finding myself in a depression. I have been using aloe Vera for a few days now. Hopefully it works because I can't afford to buy any of these expensive products or treatments. I want to feel normal and I want to stop using cover up every time I go out. :'(