Skin is your largest external organ, and one of the most sensitive organs of your body. It is also the first barrier to all external environmental factors. From day-to-day, skin encounters minor to severe troubles in one or the other form. Some serious, and some cosmetic.
One of the most frequent cosmetic concerns is melasma. Melasma is a commonly acquired dermatosis of light to dark brown patches involving the sun-exposed areas of the neck, face, chest, and sometimes forearms.
Melasma is commonly observed in women. Although the exact causative agent of melasma is unknown, many factors like genetics, UV exposure, sex hormones, pregnancy, thyroid diseases, some drugs or even cosmetics are known to contribute in the development of melasma.
You may have heard of the new skin lightening medication from Asia for melasma called Tranexamic acid.
But what really is it and it’s role in the skin? Read on to find out more.
Tranexamic acid (TXA) is an amino acid FDA approved for the treatment of hemorrhage in patients undergoing treatments such as dental extractions and excessive menstrual bleeding. Now, tranexamic acid has well established beneficial effects in the treatment of different skin conditions.
The first benefit has to do with pigmentation. TXA has been shown to reduce skin pigmentation, lighten skin, and improve severe melasma. But that’s not all..
The oral pill form of TXA prescribed by your doctor can help certain cases of melasma. Why? Because TXA has the following effects when taken as a medication:
It has a hypo-pigmentory effect on melasma lesions, so is used as a better alternative to already available melasma treatment options.
It prevents UV-induced pigmentation.
It inhibits the synthesis of melanocytes.
The effects of TXA in skin creams as a whitening agent, however, is much less understood.
Skin Innovations consults with TXA expert Dr. Desmer Destang for more information. She has extensively studied the clinical effects of TXA on the skin, and has published a thesis based on her research.
“The effects of topical TXA are quite fascinating. On very dark skin, the topical form of TXA has only limited skin-whitening effects. The oral form when done correctly is excellent supportive treatment for melasma. In the topical form, you can still get some skin lightening, but it does not compare to the effects of hydroquinone (HQ). It’s great supportive treatment for HQ, but on it’s own will not deliver the same level of skin lightening.
The pathways that TXA can affect the skin are numerous, and goes beyond skin lightening. When applied to the skin, TXA improves the barrier membrane by up-regulating certain proteins like occludin. TXA’s primary function in skin creams is to improve the barrier membrane so that your other agents work better and more efficiently. TXA also provides anti-inflammatory protection to the skin. This is the reason why it works so well with other agents such as niacinamide. A little known fact in the Western world’s dermatology is that topically applied TXA can also be used to soothe the inflamed skin of rosacea and eczema patients.”
To summarize, when applied to the skin, TXA has the following effects:
The great thing is that tranexamic acid is safe to use for all skin types and colors. There are no registered side effects of tranexamic acid when it is used topically for different skin conditions, although side effects can be observed if used orally. Always consult your healthcare professional before using oral tranexamic acid especially if you are having any associated health condition like pregnancy, diabetes, or cardiac problems.