What is Melasma?
Melasma appears on the face as sections of tan or dark skin not consistent with the patient’s normal skin color. Melasma usually appears slowly and is thought to be the result of sensitivity to hormonal changes. The dark facial patches are irregularly shaped and have no symptoms beyond their appearance. There are no long-term physiological effects of melasma; however, melasma may cause mild depression in people who are concerned about its effect on their appearance.
How does Melasma work?
Melasma is the result of increased production of melanocytes through the hormones progesterone and estrogen when the face is exposed to ultraviolet light.
Melasma appears as sections of skin – almost always on the face – that are darker than the patient’s normal skin tone. These patches can range in color from tan or brown, to gray-brown.
Though melasma may appear on the forearms and neck, these areas are far less likely to show melasma symptoms.
What gets Melasma ?
Almost all melasma patients are women, particularly women who:
- Are pregnant
- Are pre-menopausal
- Take oral contraceptives
- Take patch contraceptives
- Use hormone replacement therapy drugs
- Have a darker (more tan) skin color and live in sunny areas
- Have a family history of melasma
- Are allergic to certain medications or cosmetics
- Thyroid disease may also spur the appearance of melasma.
What can treat Melasma ?
Though some women can suffer from melasma for years due to their use of contraceptives, melasma usually subsides of its own accord after time, usually a few months. Dermatologists can treat melasma with topical depigmenting agents or other medications. Continued sun exposure, however, may render such treatments ineffective.