Melasma is a pigment problem of the skin which appears as brown patches on the faces of adults. Both sides of the face, especially the cheeks and forehead, are involved. Melasma occurs most commonly in skin of color and 90% of affected patients are women. Patients with richly pigmented skin in areas of high sun exposure are especially at risk.
The cause of melasma is unknown but estrogen and sunlight definitely worsen this condition. Melasma can be especially severe during pregnancy when estrogen levels are high or in patients taking estrogen birth control pills. Sunlight exposure causes pigment-producing cells to make more pigment (melanin), which can darken the patches. These cells are more active in skin of color. Even small amounts of sunlight exposure, such as a short walk on a cloudy day, activate these cells to produce pigment. Irritation of the skin, such as when patient’s try to scrub the patches off, can also worsen it. Melasma is usually not associated with any internal diseases, however it causes tremendous stress and anxiety in affected people.
Yes! Many treatments are available for melasma but some work better than others in a specific patient. Since the sun is a major cause of melasma, sunscreen is very important in any treatment plan. Your My Skin of Color Provider will recommend sunscreens that have proven benefit in melasma in patients with skin of color. Gentle skin care is also essential. There are numerous prescription strength fade creams available as well. These are safe and effective to lighten these patches when used under the close supervision of a trained professional. My Skin of Color has expertise in developing a treatment plan based on our patients’ goals. We do not believe in a “one size fits all” approach. Instead, we will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan. Click below to start your consultation and get your melasma treated today!