Wednesday, June 12, 2013
MELASMA--Hyperpigmentation Of The Skin. I Have This Condition, Therefore I Am Blogging About It!
For those of you who know me, you know that I am a girlie girl. I rarely, if ever, go out in public without makeup on. However, on the off chance I do, I love to hear people's reactions, especially people who know me (with makeup on).
One summer, I was watching my friend's son, and he saw me without makeup on and said, "Ms. Whitney! What's wrong with your face?!!!" And just today, I went to the nail salon fresh out of the shower, and my nail tech said, "OMG! What happened to your face!"
Most people would be like, "Uh, Whitney, these people are saying that you look really messed up, so why are you blogging about it?"
First of all, I like using my blog to educate people on certain things. Second--I'm really fine with the fact that my face is "screwed up", but would like to pass on a little knowledge of the condition called Melasma (hyperpigmentation of skin), and maybe help some people prevent bringing it upon themselves.
Some of you know that I surf, and body board...A LOT. Every chance I get, I'm out there tearing it up in the waves. I also grew up alpine ski racing, and spent 75 days per ski season out on the slopes training for slalom, giant slalom, downhill, and super G. This was all in the glorious sun, at about 11,000 ft. above sea level. And it was back in the day when sunscreen was rarely, if ever used. We're talking back in the day when Bain de Soleil mega tanner was the cool stuff to use. The browner, the better, right? I was one of the cool kids who walked around school with my dark brown goggle tan, and was super proud of it.
I also modeled in my late teens, and early 20s. They liked you to look alive back then (unlike the pale powder puff waifs of today), and so tanning was encouraged.
I took that tradition up to college with me in the freezing arctic of Alaska. The sun rarely shines up there in the winter, so I spent about three days per week soaking up my UV rays, and encouraging my Vitamin D synthesis under the tanning lamps in Fairbanks, Alaska. The only problem with all of this?--I AM A WHITE GIRL, OF NORWEGIAN DESCENT, and people like me are supposed to hang out well above the equator, and stay out of the sun!
(College at UAF--me on the far left. One of the tannest kids in Alaska!)
(Me--nice and tan at my bachelorette party in Fairbanks, Alaska 2000)
In May of 2000, I went on a trip to Maui. I got out of the waves one day, and KA-POW!!!! There was a dark brown explosion on my face. Patchy, dark areas, with lighter areas mixed in, and strangely right about where my ski goggles didn't cover up. Ironic, eh? Not so much. I had acquired Melasma--and it was now a permanent part of my face.
Some people are probably surprised that I have this condition. I work my makeup such that you can't tell I have it. When I go trail running, I cake on the sunscreen, but let my splotchy face out for all to see. It doesn't bother me one bit to walk around Hawaii with no makeup on, either. Half the people there are surf junkies who have the same condition on their face.
I took this bit of info on Melasma from Wikipedia:
"Many forms of hyperpigmentation are caused by an excess production of melanin. Hyperpigmentation can be diffuse or focal, affecting such areas as the face and the back of the hands. Melanin is produced by melanocytes at the lower layer of the epidermis. Melanin is a class of pigment responsible for producing color in the body in places such as the eyes, skin, and hair. As the body ages, melanocyte distribution becomes less diffuse and its regulation less controlled by the body. UV light stimulates melanocyte activity, and where concentrations of the cells are denser than surrounding areas, hyperpigmentation is effected. Can also be caused by using skin lightening lotions. Another form of hyperpigmentation is Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. These are dark and discolored spots that appear on your skin following acne that has healed."
There are treatments out there that can help with Melasma (like skin bleaching, or pills). I don't use them, because they only work if you use them religiously, and swear to never go out in the sun again, and I refuse to walk around with my Michael Jackson umbrella so that the sun never touches me. This doesn't work with my lifestyle, so I just plaster on the SPF, and am secure enough in who I am to know that my brown splotchy face just adds to my character. I have actually kind of grown to like it, and I wouldn't recognize myself without it.
Since becoming more aware of proper skin protection from UV rays, I am a huge advocate for the use of sunscreen. I am constantly preaching to people about using sunscreen, and not allowing themselves to sunburn, and limit the amount of tanning they do. I usually rock the SPF 50 UVA/UVB blockers. However, any amount of sun makes the hyperpigmentation on my face come out.
I also HIGHLY recommend going to the dermatologist at least annually, if not twice per year to have a "skin check". They go over every part of you with a fine-toothed comb and make sure you don't have any sign of cancerous/precancerous growths on your body. This is good, because I spent a lot of time naked on a tanning bed, so a thorough check is always appreciated.
This summer, make sure you take care of your skin!!! Especially my peeps up here in Colorado, where we're a bunch of white people running around at high altitude! I grew up in Conifer/Evergreen area, on top of a mountain, at 8,800 ft elevation! Hindsight is 20/20, but I wish I had embraced sunscreen a little harder (or at all) as a child/teen/young adult! Not to mention, the sun makes your skin look like a leather bag way too soon!
I find Melasma to be very easy to live with, but it is certainly not ideal by any means. I've obviously done a lot of damage to my skin, and I need to be very careful in the future. Also, if you see me in public without makeup on, make sure you know that I am well aware that there is something wrong with my face! ;)
However, wearing a little makeup sure does help!!! :)