What is Melasma?

Melasma is a common skin problem caused by brown to gray-brown patches on the face. Most people get it on their cheeks, chin, nose bridge, forehead, and above the upper lip. However, it can also affect the forearms, neck, and upper body.

The causes are not clear but are likely related to hormones, genetics, and skin type. Melasma is more common in females, and people with light-brown skin who come from regions of the world with lots of sun exposure are more likely to get it. Melasma also seems to run in families: about 50% of people with melasma report that one or more close relatives also have the condition. In fact, identical twins have been known to both develop melasma.

Causes of Melasma

Melasma is a skin condition that’s triggered by sun exposure and is more common in people with light brown skin tones. 9 out of 10 people who have melasma are female, and the condition is also more common during pregnancy. Genetics also plays a role in melasma, as up to 50% of people with the condition report that close relatives also have it.

How to get rid of Melasma?

Melasma is a skin condition that can cause discoloration on the skin. It may go away on its own, but it can also last for years. If you dislike the discoloration on your skin caused by melasma, certain treatments can sometimes help. Dermatologists recommend treating melasma sooner rather than later because it can be difficult to get noticeable results from treatment if you’ve had melasma for many years.

Before and After
Before and After

Is there a cure for melasma?

Melasma is hard to treat. To determine a treatment plan, your healthcare provider will have to first figure out what’s possibly causing the melasma. Is it sunlight? Your birth control? Genetics? Your soap? Too much screen time?

Depending on the person, melasma may go away on its own, it may be permanent, or it may respond to treatment within a few months. Most cases of melasma will fade away with time and especially with good protection from sunlight and other sources of light.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive treatment that will automatically make melasma disappear. At this time there is no way to remove dermal pigment.

If you have melasma, be sure to avoid:

  • Hormone treatments, specifically ones that involve estrogen.
  • Birth control, specifically oral contraceptive pills that contain estrogen and progesterone.
  • LED light from your television, laptop, cell phone and tablet.
  • Makeup you find irritating to your skin.
  • Medications that may cause or worsen melasma.
  • Scented soaps.
  • Skin care products that irritate your skin.
  • Tanning beds.
  • Waxing, which can aggravate the melasma.


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