If you suffer from melasma and take birth control, you don’t want to miss this…

Although birth control helps many women with menstrual regulation, acne, and of course, to prevent unwanted pregnancies, did you know that your birth control can be worsenening your melasma?

If you have been experiencing increased melasma, and are taking birth control, please keep reading to see what skin care physician Dr. Shehla Ebrahim has to say!

How does birth control trigger melasma?

As you may or may not know, the cause of melasma is unknown. What we do know, however, is that those with melasma have an abnormal production of cells in the skin known as melanocytes. With the increase in melanocyte cells, melanin is easily activated causing pigmentation in the skin. This can be noticed on elevated areas of the face such as the forehead, cheeks, nose and upper lip. 

Both oral birth controls and hormonal IUDs work to alter female sex hormones estrogen and progestin to create an environment not suitable for pregnancy. In turn, the change in hormone increase melanocyte cells (aka the cells that lead to melasma). 

What birth controls can trigger melasma?

As previously mentioned, so long as you are taking hormonal birth control, you can anticipate changes in your body and skin.

This includes oral contraceptives like “the pill” and “the mini pill”, patches, injections, and IUDs.

What can you do to reduce melasma on birth control?

If you are taking birth control and wish to continue, the most important tip for avoiding melasma is the use of physical sunscreen. Since those with melasma are more susceptible to pigmentation caused by the sun, investing in, and reapplying SPF 30+ every 2 hours is crucial to avoid unwanted pigmentation.

You can also invest in skincare such as:

If you do choose the retinol route, please be advised to use it at night only, and to wash off residue every morning as retinol increases sensitivity to sunlight. 

Finally, when it comes down to it, it’s all about priorities. If your melasma is taking a toll on your self-confidence, you can also consider other contraception options such as using condoms during sexual intercourse or fertility awareness which has become increasingly popular. Regardless of your decision, please speak to a healthcare professional for more information and resources to ensure adequate protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. 

Where to seek melasma treatment

At the end of the day, hormonal birth control does alter your hormones in order for it to work for its purpose, contraception. These hormonal shifts can affect many things in your body, including your largest organ-your skin

There are certain things that you can do to lower your chances of melasma caused by birth control such as proper use of SPF, Vitamin C serum and retinol. If you choose to continue the use of hormonal contraception, and your skincare efforts aren’t enough to lower the appearance of melasma, we invite you to consult with skin care physician Dr. Shehla Ebrahim for melasma treatment. 

Your treatment with Dr. Shehla Ebrahim may include prescription gels and creams, microneedling, laser therapy or a combination of treatments. To book your consult with Dr. Shehla Ebrahim, we invite you to CLICK HERE.