Did you know that melasma and adrenal fatigue are related? And that both can be reversed? It’s true! If you are suffering from either or both of these conditions, I want you to know, there is hope!
Before & After
The picture on the left was taken late spring time, 2008. We were sitting outside at the ball field watching my youngest son play baseball. My husband snapped the picture with his cell phone. That was me, trying to be cute. When I saw the picture, I was in tears and wanted him to delete it. I knew I had “some” hyperpigmentation of the skin on my face, but this picture was the first time I realized how bad it had gotten. I had dark patches on my forehead and on my cheeks. I was mortified. A short time after this picture was taken, I recall my sister making a comment about my skin, not in a bad way, but just in a “she noticed it”, kind of way. A few more comments from innocent friends about the dirt on my skin was enough to make me want to go into hiding until I could resolve it. At this point in time, I had yet to be diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue or even knew what Melasma was.
Fast forward to the after picture. It was the summer of 2012. We had just returned from a cruise and I was sporting a pretty nice tan. I am half Mexican, so it doesn’t take much for me to turn brown. I snapped this picture myself, using the auto-timer on my camera and a tripod. To be perfectly honest, even sometimes I can’t believe the difference, to the point I get emotional and teary-eyed. I promise you, there was no special lighting, photoshopping or professional make-up in the after photo. I had on a bronzing powder and blush, no foundation or concealer and of course, eye make-up. I love my eye make-up!
How I Reversed Melasma
What is Melasma
Melasma is hyperpigmentation of the skin. It causes brown “dirty” looking patches on the forehead, cheeks and upper lip. The patches develop slowly over time and is thought to be worsened by sun exposure.
Who Gets Melasma
Melasma is particularly common in women due to the underlying cause being the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Pregnancy, birth control and hormone replacement therapy usage contributes to the occurrence of melasma in women. According to the American Academy of Dermatology only 10% of people with melasma are men.
Causes of Melasma
While conventional thought is melasma is caused by the sun, it is not the root cause. The sun may worsen melasma, but it does not cause it. Melanocyte-stimulating hormones (MSH) are responsible for melasma. These hormones stimulate the production of melanin. In both humans and animals an increase in MSH causes an increase in skin darkening.
How Adrenal Fatigue and Melasma is Related
Stress of any kind causes an adaptive response from the body. The stress response begins in the brain in the hypothalmus. The hypothalmus sends a signal to the pituitary gland to secrete adreno-corticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol. The adrenals convert cholesterol into pregnenolone which is the building block for both sex hormones and cortisol. When the body is under chronic stress, such as during adrenal fatigue, the body uses pregnenolone to produce more cortisol, limiting what’s available for producing sex hormones. In a female, the result can be low testosterone (reduction in sex drive) and low progesterone which throws off the balance of estrogen. And, here is the connection to melasma; elevated estrogen (or estrogen not balanced by progesterone) increases MSH and as we learned above, this causes an increase in skin darkening or melasma.
How I Reversed Melasma
Before being diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, I went to an esthetician for a consultation on the melasma. She offered up several very expensive sessions which involved chemical lightening and instructed me to wear a high-SPF sunscreen on my face, along with a wide-brimmed hat. As much as I did not like the melasma, deep down I knew this wasn’t the answer. It wasn’t long there after I learned of adrenal fatigue and made the connection to how it was affecting my skin. Believe me, I wish I could tell you it was a magic cream or a super special soap but it wasn’t. In fact, my skin care routine is the same today as it was back then, a basic soap and water to wash my face and a touch of moisturizer. It took time for the melasma to fade and eventually disappear for good. As I illustrated above, the melasma I experienced was directly related to adrenal dysfunction and out of balance sex hormones.
I attribute the reversal of the melasma to the balancing of my hormones. In addition to normalizing my cortisol pattern, I had to reverse low progesterone and bring it back into balance with my estrogen levels.
My healing journey was a 4-year process that involved blood work, symptom checks, natural supplements and dietary changes. Tests were performed every 6-9 months and were used, along with an assessment of my symptoms, to determine progress and well as to make changes to my supplement protocol.
Learn More About Adrenal Fatigue & Hormone Balancing
I cannot stress enough, if you suspect you are having issues with adrenal fatigue or have melasma, find a holistic-minded expert you can trust who will get to the root cause. The cure is not found in treating the symptom with bleaching creams or lightening treatments. To learn more about how important hormone balance is, I recommend reading the book, The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried. It will change your life!
Before & After – Adrenal Fatigue & Melasma