Beat melasma with ayurveda

Melasma is commonly seen in Indian working women between the age of 25-55. Melasma is a brown patch, a tan or a grey patch on the upper cheeks, upper lip, forehead and chin. It is very common during pregnancy, but the patches disappear after pregnancy. Even though it is common in women, male cases have also been reported.

Melasma was initially considered as sun tan. But, later researches have shown that other indications like hormonal imbalances lead to this condition. Pregnancy and intake of contraceptive pills for a long period play a vital role. According to some statistics people with dark skin like Asian, Middle Eastern and Hispanics have higher chances of getting melasma than others.

Causes of melasma
The exact patho-physiology and causes are still unclear. General supportive causes are as follows

  1. Pregnancy
  2. Birth control pills
  3. Hormone replacement therapy
  4. Family history
  5. Race – Asian, Middle Eastern and Hispanics
  6. Anti seizure medications
  7. Exposure to ultra violet light
  8. Uncontrolled or over exposure to sun light (Higher incidences are reported in Summer)

Clinical melasma
Melasma is clinically understood as discoloration or hyper-pigmentation on the face. Clinically, it can be categorized into:

  1. Centro-facial Melasma – Which affects the center part of the face – High incidence affecting the forehead, cheeks, upper lip, nose and chin
  2. Malar Melasma – Which affects the cheek areas including the upper cheeks
  3. Mandibular Melasma – Which affects the jaw bones

Very rarely, melasma affecting the other parts of the body like forearms, neck, back too have been recorded.

Based on the pigmentation type, melasma is divided into four types

  1. Epidermal melasma – Accumulation of excessive melanin in the skin
  2. Dermal melasma – Excessive melanophages in the skin throughout the dermis
  3. Mixed melasma – Both the above
  4. Unnamed – Usually affects the dark skinned persons – Excessive melanocytes in the skin

Usually, by physical examination of the skin on the face by the physician. A wood’s light test is helpful to diagnose the condition accurately. Skin biopsy helps to understand the clinical type.

Treating melasma with Ayurveda
Ayurveda, as a holistic medicine addresses this problem both from inside and outside. According to ayurveda, facial beauty is the reflection of physical, mental and spiritual well being. Hence, Ayurveda recommends the traditional detoxification therapies followed by rejuvenation therapies for this condition.

As a pacification therapy, Ayurveda recommends a special eight fold therapy for a period of 28-40 days for complete cure. This facial therapies helps improves the blood circulation in the skin which in turn detox and rejuvenate itself. Even though the results are slow, it yields better results than any other chemical or modern medicine based creams

  1. Gentle application of fresh aloe vera juice followed by warm water wash: According to modern researchers, aloe vera contains mucilaginous polysaccharides which has a significant result on lightening the dark spots. Ayurveda recommends this should be applied gently on the face and left on for 15 minutes before washing off
  2. Orange peel fresh, powdered mixed with milk – is a very good skin exfoliator which can lighten skin discoloration in no time. Gentle application followed by warm water wash after 30 minutes is recommended
  3. Application of turmeric powder mixed with warm milk – 5 tablespoons of turmeric powder mixed with 10 tablespoons of milk is applied all over the face followed by a warm massage for 20 minutes followed by warm water wash
  4. Almond paste with honey as pack for 15 minutes followed by warm water wash after 15 minutes
  5. Application of fresh lemon juice with gentle massage followed by warm water wash after 10 minutes
  6. Onion seed paste application followed by warm water wash after 15 minutes
  7. Thulasi leave paste pack followed by warm water wash after 15 minutes
  8. Finally, a 10-minute pack with Thriphala choornam for 10 minutes followed by warm water wash (Ayurveda recommends using Thriphala Kashayam for face wash to prevent and cure melasma. Ayurveda also recommends 1 tablespoon of Thriphala choornam at bed time with warm water)

Home remedies for melasma

  1. Vinegar: Dilute vinegar equally with water, and use to cleanse and rinse your face. Allow to air dry to seal in moisture. Or, use the vinegar/water mixture in place of an astringent or toner. Vinegar is chemically acetic acid, and is capable of whitening and brightening, as well as making skin smoother and more radiant. It has also long been used as a skin softener. Apple cider or other natural vinegars are recommended, though some people use distilled white vinegar.
  2. Onion juice: To get onion juice, you can finely chop up an onion, or blend it, and squeeze the juice through a cheese cloth. Mix with an equal part of apple cider vinegar, and apply twice daily with a cotton ball and watch for results over the next several weeks. Alternatively, you can cut a slice of onion, dip it in vinegar, and apply it to the pigmentation.
  3. Lemon juice: Applying the juice of a fresh lemon to the pigmentation has a similar effect to the onion remedy – it is acidic and can safely peel off the top layer of skin, causing spots to fade.

Ayurveda diet for Melasma
Avoiding the following food items helps in prevention and healing of melasma

  1. Tamarind
  2. Spicy, salty foods and drinks
  3. Garlic and green chillies
  4. Brinjal
  5. Curd (Yoghurt)
  6. Buffalo milk products
  7. Alcohol and alcoholic products
  8. Sugarcane
  9. Eggs
  10. Fish
  11. Chicken
  12. Avoid exercise in hot weather, exposure to hot sun, birth control pills and long time hormonal therapies

Source: Dr K Gowthaman, Medical Director, rVita (rVita Ayurveda Centers)

Image: public domain photos