Melasma is a skin pigmentation disorder that creates brown to gray-brown patches which are usually visible on the face. Other parts of the body that are often exposed to the sun can also bear this condition.
It is sometimes also called the “mask of pregnancy,” since the increase in hormones in a pregnant woman can temporarily trigger this condition. However, it can also happen to men and non-pregnant women.
Let’s talk about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of melasma and who you can talk to if you think that you may have this unusual skin condition.
What Are the Symptoms of Melasma?
This is a purely cosmetic condition, and it does not cause anything other than the person being unhappy with how their skin looks. The blotchy brown or gray-brown patches on the face tend to develop on the following areas:
- Above the upper lip
The signs of melasma are most often seen in the areas that are exposed to the sun. Although the spots or patches usually appear on the face, other areas – such as the forearms and the neck – can also be affected.
What Causes Melasma to Develop?
The cause of melasma remains unclear, and it doesn’t induce health risks or pain in those who are affected. This condition likely occurs when melanocytes, or the melanin-producing cells in the skin, produce too much pigment. Melasma seems to appear when these cells become hyperactive in some regions of the skin.
People with darker skin are more likely to develop melasma, because their skin naturally has more active pigment-producing cells than in people with light skin. The cause of brown age spots and freckles is similar to this mechanism, but melasma patches are usually larger.
How Can Melasma Be Treated?
Your dermatologist may first need to perform a skin biopsy to rule out other conditions causing the patches. The doctor may also use a device called a Wood’s lamp to examine your skin.
If the patches are indeed diagnosed as melasma, the patches will likely naturally fade away if it’s caused by pregnancy or the usage of contraceptives. There are a number of topical creams, lotions, and gels that can be used to lighten the patches. Your dermatologist will recommend and prescribe a treatment that should work for you.
It may take several months of treatment before you observe results, so please be patient. You will also need maintenance therapy to prevent the melasma from returning or worsening, such as wearing sunscreen and a hat when going outside.
Family Dermatologist in Miami
Melasma can cause emotional distress and low self-esteem if you don’t seek treatment from a reliable dermatologist when the condition is still in its early stages. Here at Children’s Skin Center, we practice both pediatric and adult dermatology to serve the whole family.
Our board-certified dermatologists and certified medical assistants will make sure that you get the treatment you need so you enjoy looking in the mirror again. Melasma is a treatable condition.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, contact us today by calling us at (305) 669-6555, or you may fill out our appointment request form. We look forward to helping you achieve clear, beautiful skin!