Melasma: What You Need To Know


Do you have brown discoloration on your skin that doesn’t disappear no matter what you do? Are you struggling with uneven skin tone that you constantly need to hide under makeup? One possible explanation for what you have is melasma. Read on to find out more about this skin condition.

What is melasma?

A common skin problem, melasma is characterized by brown, sometimes gray, patches on the skin. These brown patches are often found on the face, neck, and arms. Although this hyperpigmentation problem may seem alarming especially for extreme cases, it doesn’t really cause any physical harm. But because it can become unsightly, it can cause some real self-esteem issues.


What causes melasma?

The specific cause of melasma is not exactly known but there are risk or trigger factors. One of these risk factors for melasma is sun exposure which is why it appears on areas of the body that is most exposed to the sun. Hence, wearing adequate sun protection should help lower your risk for developing melasma. Applying sunscreen with SPF of at least 50 is recommended, as well as wearing a hat that provide enough shade for your face and body such as a wide-brimmed hat.

Aside from sun exposure, another common risk factor for melasma is a change in hormones. This is why melasma can often appear during or after pregnancy, as well as while taking birth control pills or hormone replacement medication. Melasma that appears during pregnancy is often called chloasma or the mask of pregnancy.

Sometimes, some beauty products may cause adverse skin reactions and this may include hyperpigmentation.

What are the treatments for melasma?

There are some lucky ones whose melasma disappears on its own – either after pregnancy if it’s chloasma or after avoiding sun exposure. Even if your melasma doesn’t disappear on its own, it can fade after some time especially if you follow tips for managing melasma. However, if you would like to take a more active approach to solving your melasma problem, there are some melasma treatments available.

One of the easiest treatment for melasma is by applying a melasma cream. Most of these creams contain hydroquinone, tretinoin, and corticosteroid, which may have harmful effects especially if used for a long time – make sure to talk to your doctors about side effects. Another melasma cream that is growing in popularity is the Cysteamine cream, which is being recognized for its safety and efficacy as a melasma treatment.

Aside from melasma creams, you may also try procedures that can be done by your dermatologist in the clinic. These are laser therapy, chemical peel, and microdermabrasion.

Laser therapy involves using laser or light to treat the hyperpigmentation. Although this can be effective, the result can sometimes be temporary. Both chemical peel and microdermabrasion involve removing the top layer of the skin to reveal the layer underneath which, hopefully, has more even pigmentation. In a chemical peel, a solution is applied on the skin that will cause it to blister and peel. In microdermabrasion, the skin is exfoliated using abrasion and suction.