Melasma is a common skin disorder that causes brown to gray-brown patches on the face. These patches typically occur on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin, and above the upper lip. It can also show up on other areas of the body that receive a lot of sun, like the forearms and neck.
The most common treatment for melasma is sun protection- wearing sunscreen daily and reapplying every two hours. Wearing a wide brimmed hat while outside can also help prevent melasma.
Women are more likely to get melasma. It is very common during pregnancy and is called the mask of pregnancy. Hormones can play a role in melasma. People with darker skin are more likely to get melasma, as are anyone with a blood relative that had melasma.
There are no symptoms in regards to how the skin feels from melasma, but many sufferers of melasma dislike the way their skin looks.
The cause for melasma is unknown, but it probably occurs when the color making cells in the skin (melanocytes) produce too much color. Triggers include sun exposure, a change in hormones (pregnancy, birth control pills, or hormone replacement medicine), and cosmetics. Fortunately, when a trigger stops, this can cause melasma to fade on its own. If melasma doesn’t fade on it’s own, treatments like hydroquinone, tretinoin and corticosteroids, or other topical medicines. Side effects of treatments can include skin irritation and darkening of the skin.
Melasma can be diagnosed by looking at the skin. To determine how deeply the melasma penetrates the skin, your dermatologist may look at your skin under a device called Wood’s light. To ensure that melasma is the correct diagnosis of your skin condition, your dermatologist may need to remove a small bit of skin, which is called a biopsy. This can be done safely and quickly during and office visit.
Melasma can fade on its own. This often happens when a trigger is causing the melasma, such as a pregnancy or birth control pills. When the woman delivers the baby or stops taking the birth control pills, melasma can fade. Sometimes several months of treatment is needed to see improvement, if melasma doesn’t fade on its own. After it clears, you may need to keep treating your skin to prevent it from returning.
Come see us for a free consultation and see how we can help your melasma! My goal as an educated skin care specialist is to educate clients on how to best take care of their skin. My goal isn’t to make a sale- it’s to truly help people!