Melasma appears on the face as sections of tan or dark skin not consistent with the patient’s normal skin color. Melasma usually appears slowly and is thought to be the result of sensitivity to hormonal changes. The dark facial patches are irregularly shaped and have no symptoms beyond their appearance. There are no long-term physiological effects of melasma; however, melasma may cause mild depression in people who are concerned about its effect on their appearance.

Melasma is the result of increased production of melanocytes through the hormones progesterone and estrogen when the face is exposed to ultraviolet light.

Melasma appears as sections of skin – almost always on the face, particularly on the cheeks, forehead, upper lip, and chin – that are darker than the patient’s normal skin tone. These patches can range in color from tan or brown to gray-brown.

Though melasma may appear on the forearms and neck, these areas are far less likely to show melasma symptoms.

Almost all melasma patients are women, particularly women who:

  • Are pregnant
  • Are pre-menopausal
  • Take oral contraceptives
  • Take patch contraceptives
  • Use hormone replacement therapy drugs
  • Have a darker (more tan) skin color and live in sunny areas
  • Have a family history of melasma
  • Are allergic to certain medications or cosmetics
  • Thyroid disease may also spur the appearance of melasma.

At the California Dermatology Institute, our dermatology providers specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of melasma. We understand the impact that melasma can have on your self-esteem and overall well-being, and we are dedicated to providing personalized care to help you achieve clearer, more even-toned skin.

Treatment options for melasma may include topical creams containing ingredients like hydroquinone, retinoids, corticosteroids, or azelaic acid. In-office procedures such as chemical peels or microdermabrasion can also be effective in managing melasma.

During your consultation, our dermatology providers will conduct a thorough evaluation of your skin and discuss the most appropriate treatment options for your specific condition. We will also provide guidance on sun protection measures and skincare routines to prevent further hyperpigmentation and maintain the results of your treatment.

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