What is Melasma?

Melasma is also known as Chloasma faciei or the mask of pregnancy (when it appears on pregnant women) and is a tan or dark skin discoloration that typically develops in the summer months. The name comes from Melas which is the Greek word for black.

Even though the condition can affect anyone Melasma is most common in women 20 to 50 years of age and especially pregnant women and those taking hormone replacement therapy or oral or patch contraceptives. Melasma is caused partly by sun, genetic predisposition, and hormonal changes. The incidence of Melasma increases in individuals with thyroid disease.

Overexpression of the tyrosine kinase receptor c-kit and certain stem cell factors have been identified in Melasma lesions and fibroblasts located in the dermal layer of the skin may also contribute to the development of Melasma. A dermatologist may examine the skin using a Wood’s light to see how deeply the melasma penetrates the skin. People with olive or darker skin like Hispanic, Asian, and Middle Eastern individuals are at higher risk for contracting Melasma. The condition is not an infection, it’s not contagious, it’s not due to an allergy, and it’s not cancerous.

What are the Symptoms of Melasma?

Symptoms of melasma may include brown or gray-brown patches on the face that appear on the forehead, cheeks, chin, bridge of the nose, above the upper lip, and on the forearms or neck.

How is Melasma Treated?

treatment includes: Hydroquinone, tretinoin and corticosteroid cream; Azelaic acid, oral tranexamic acid, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, cosmetic camouflage, strict avoidance of the sun, stopping hormone medicines that may be causing the problem, and laser treatments can help lighten the skin.