If you’re looking for an over the counter melasma treatment to help lighten the dark patches on your skin, you may be wondering what options are available. Here, we’ve outlined the three main options you will find at your local drugstore.
The most popular – and most convenient – way to treat melasma is with over the counter creams. These topical treatments target the dark spots caused by melasma and are generally applied once per day, depending on the exact manufacturer recommendation.
Over the counter creams generally include one or more of the following ingredients:
Over the counter hydroquinone for melasma remains one of the most popular and affordable treatments for this skin condition. Hydroquinone is considered the gold standard in topical treatments, but overuse can (rarely) cause your skin to darken instead. Professional dermatologic care can help you avoid this side effect.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that over-the-counter creams are not as potent as prescription medications. That means that your drug store options may take longer to work before you start to see noticeable results.
Melasma that is resistant to treatment may respond better to other over the counter treatments, such as the chemical facial peel. These peels are applied to the face once per day (or per manufacturer recommendations) and promote skin exfoliation and the growth of new, dark pigment-free skin.
Like over the counter creams, drugstore chemical peels are not as strong as outpatient procedures. Since melasma can be tricky to treat, it may take many treatments before you start to see results.
One thing to note is that chemical peels aren’t right for everyone, with at least one study recommending that they not be used in certain cases of dermal melasma (Sarkar). Your dermatologist can make the best recommendation for your skin.
This may not be what you have in mind when you think of over the counter treatments for melasma, but there are some natural home remedies that some dermatologists support, such as aloe vera or turmeric. However, many of these at-home remedies are not thoroughly studied yet, so consulting a doctor before trying them is recommended.
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While it’s true that no one knows your body better than you, melasma isn’t always straightforward or easy to treat. That’s why it’s important to consult with your dermatologist – they will be able to guide you on the path to the most effective type of treatment for your skin.