What is melasma?

Melasmais a type of skin darkening (hyperpigmentation) that is seen most commonly onthe face.

        It may develop during pregnancy,while taking birth control pills, during menopause, or it may appear for noobvious reason.

        It is worsened by exposure tosunlight.



Who gets it?

        Melasma most commonly appears inwomen during their reproductive years, particularly those women who have darkercomplexions and live, or were born, in a sunny climate.

         It is most often seen in Asia, the MiddleEast, South America, Africa, and the Indian subcontinent.

        In North America it is most commonlyseen in among Hispanics, African-Americans, and immigrants from countries inwhich it is very common.

What does it look like?

        Tan or brown spots are seen mainly onthe cheeks, the jaw, forehead, nose, chin, and above the upper lip.


What can Iexpect?


        During pregnancy, the darkening ofthe skin often appears in the second and third trimesters and usually fadesafter the end of pregnancy.

        It also tends to fade when oralcontraceptives are stopped or when sunlight is avoided.

        However, it may remain for manyyears, or for a lifetime.

How is ittreated?

        Treatment of melasma involves usingone or more bleaching agents and sometimes a cosmetic to camouflage it. Inaddition, sun avoidance and the use of sun blocks are very important.

        In some countries, bleaching creamsthat contain 2% hydroquinone are readily available over-the-counter. Strongerpreparations are also available by prescription only.

        There are also other lighteningagents that may be used in addition to hydroquinone.

        This treatment requires patienceduring the many months in which lightening agents must be applied.

        Without the strict avoidance ofsunlight, successful treatments for melasma will not work

        The use of sunscreens is veryimportant. They should be used on a daily basis, whether it is sunny or not.

        Chemical peels, microdermabrasion,and laser treatments have also been used to treat melasma.