Melasma is a pigmentary condition that causes dark patches to form on the skin. It typically appears in a symmetrical fashion on the face, but can also present on other parts of the body that are exposed to sun.
Because it commonly occurs during pregnancy, melasma is often referred to as the mask of pregnancy.
If you would like to learn more about melasma, including possible causes, common symptoms, how it’s diagnosed, and treatment options, read on.
What Causes Melasma?
The exact cause of melasma is not known. However, it is sensitive to hormones estrogen and progesterone and is more likely in individuals who are pregnant, using oral contraceptives, and taking hormone therapy.
What’s more, women and men with melanin-rich skin are at greater risk for melasma, as are people who regularly expose their skin to the sun’s harmful UV rays.
What Are the Symptoms of Melasma?
The hallmark symptom of melasma is brown patches that appear on both sides of the cheeks, forehead, bridge of the nose, and chin. This hyperpigmentation is also possible on the neck and forearms.
It’s worth noting that while melasma does not pose a medical threat, it can cause uneven skin and become a significant cosmetic concern.
How Is Melasma Diagnosed?
Melasma is usually diagnosed by a visual inspection of the skin. A Wood’s Lamp Examination shines a specialized light to determine how many layers of skin are affected.
Is Melasma Treatable?
In most cases, melasma can be readily treated and managed. Creams, including those containing hydroquinone, and topical steroids are usually considered the first-line of treatment.
If skin doesn’t respond to these approaches, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, microneedling, IPL, and laser resurfacing may also be recommended.
If you would like help managing your melasma, please call our office today to schedule a comprehensive consultation with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Johnathan L. Chappell.