Melasma – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Pictures

August 18, 20130 Comments

Melasma is a common skin problem causing discoloration of skin in women. There will be tanning of skin forming brown patches on the upper lip and upper cheeks and on the forehead. Often melasma is caused due to exposure of skin to harsh rays of sunlight and due to oral contraceptive pills and hormonal changes. This condition is common on pregnant women of Latin American origin. It can also be seen in Asian and Hispanic community people. In the USA alone, more than 6 million women are having melasma condition and over 90% of women worldwide are suffering from this problem.


Exact factor that triggers formation of melasma is not known. But it is believed that factors like pregnancy and hormonal changes can cause skin discoloration. Women who are taking oral contraceptive pills for long time are prone to discoloration.

Hereditary can also be a reason for skin discoloration since there is more chance for getting skin discoloration. Taking epileptic medications for long can cause skin changes causing hyperpigmentation. Exposing the skin to UV light is the major cause for melasma and this is more particular for individuals who have family history of melasma. In summer season, melasma patches is very intense but in winter the pigments appear to be less visible.

The conditions of melasma skin changes appearing in pregnancy is also called chloasma. Pregnant women will have increased production of hormones like estrogen and progesterone and this is more particular in 2nd and 3rd trimester. Another hormone melanocyte stimulating hormone is also responsible for causing skin discoloration.


Melasma is largely seen in face, forehead, and upper lip and on cheeks. It appears on the center of the face, on cheekbones and on the jaw bones. Sometimes the upper portion of the neck will have melasma patches. In rare cases, melasma is seen on the forearms and other body parts. This pattern is more prominently seen on Native Americans.

Types :

There are 4 types of pigmentation found in melasma. First one is the epidermal type seen on the upper (superficial) layers of the skin. Next is the presence of melasma patches on the dermal skin. Third one is the mixed type seen both on the epidermis and dermis layer of the skin. In the last type, it affects only dark skinned people and not others.

Tests :

Melasma can be easily diagnosed by your doctor on physical examination of the brown patches on your face.


Very common treatment for melasma is to apply creams that contain 2% hydroquinone. You can buy porcelana or esoterica cream with over the counter. Prescription creams contain 4% of hydroquinone like Solaquin, Glyguin and Obgi. Most of them are effective in producing the desired effect of skin lightening.

You should apply the cream twice or thrice a day on the affected skin portion like cheeks and on the center of the face. Sunscreen lotion should be applied on the face while going out. It is easy to treat epidermal type of melasma when compared with other types since it facilitates easy absorption of medications. Some type of melasma will disappear on its own without requiring any treatment. Often, the symptoms will go away after childbirth if the symptoms first started when women are pregnant.

Creams that contain hydroquinone 2%, phenolic agent, and retinoic acid are prescribed for more severe cases of melasma. Corticosteroids are effective in managing melasma patches that are dark and severe. But there can be temporary side effects like irritation of skin. For some people medications like Azelax, tretinoin, differin gel and lac hydrin are used for getting rapid results.

Azelaic acid is highly effective for treating melasma patches without any side effects. It will give light burning sensation on the skin for few days but the patches will fade from your skin. People with melasma should avoid going out in sunlight. In case if their work warrants them to go on daytime, then it is necessary to use sunscreen lotion that includes minimum of SPF 30 formula. Creams that include zinc oxide or titanium oxide is effective in blocking the UV rays of the sun.

Images, Pics, Photos and Pictures of Melasma :

Melasma Melasma Melasma Melasma Melasma

Prevention :

You can prevent melasma patches by avoiding exposure to sun. But individuals with family history will have difficulty in preventing these patches from appearing on their face. Wearing sunglasses and using SPF formula is highly recommended for protecting your skin.

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