Melasma is a common skin condition that causes brown to grayish-brown patches on the cheeks, nose, forehead, chin, and upper lip. 90% of patients with melasma are women, and the condition is more common in people with darker skin, such as those of Asian, Latin or Hispanic, Mediterranean, Indian, Middle Eastern, and North African descent. The cause of melasma is not entirely clear, although sun exposure and changes in hormones seem to be important in stimulating over-activation of the skin’s pigment producing cells. Ultraviolet sun exposure makes melasma worse in the summer and causes it to return quickly after treatment, if the skin isn’t protected from the sun. Hormones make melasma worse in pregnancy, and both birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can trigger and worsen the condition.
Melasma is most often diagnosed clinically by your dermatologist looking at your skin. Treatment can be challenging depending on where the pigment is located in your skin. Pigment closer to the skin’s surface is more easily treated, while deep pigment can be very persistent. Treatment often includes a combination of therapies, including excellent sun protection, bleaching and other lightening creams, adjustment of hormones if indicated, avoidance of skin irritants, and laser or light treatments. We understand that melasma is a frustrating, chronic condition and look forward to working with you to devise a successful treatment regimen.