Melasma – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Chloasma is also known as melasma, it appears as a blotchy, brownish pigmentation on the face that develops slowly and fades with time to time as days goes on. Melasma is a commonly acquired increase of pigmentation that occurs exclusively in sun-exposed areas. Melasma is most common in women of child-bearing age. Only 10% of cases have been reported in males. Overachieving melanocytes are to blame. These pigment producing cells become stimulated to produce extra unwanted melanin resulting in patchy discoloration. Melasma affects an estimated six million people in the US alone. Though not dangerous, the condition can cause embarrassment and undermine self-confidence.


The cause of melasma is not fully understood. However, genetics, hormonal changes, and sun exposure are known to play important roles. It is especially common in pregnant women, women who are taking oral contraceptives which are pills, and women taking hormone replacement therapy during menopause. Sun exposure would appear to be a stimulating factor in predisposed individuals. Although a few cases within families have been described, melasma should not be considered a heritable disorder.


Melasma doesn’t cause any other symptoms besides skin discoloration but may be of great cosmetic concern. Melasma can be seen on the forehead, upper lip, cheeks and nose in brown color. It appears as irregular or dark patches. There is no other symptoms are found in case of severe Melasma. Melasma produces large, tan-brown, irregular patches, symmetrically distributed on the forehead, cheeks, and sides of the nose.


There are a few treatments that may help with the appearance of Melasma which include a combination of

tretinoin cream and a bleaching cream that contains hydroquinone. This may help to fade some types of


Laser skin resurfacing offers a controlled and relatively successful short-term strategy to deliver highly controlled treatment to the facial areas impacted by melasma. Chemical peels can also be considered.

Fruit cream or tretinoin cream that contain fruit acid, lactic acid and glycolic acid are also effective to reduce this skin disorder.

People with primarily surface pigment can expect to see more rapid and dramatic results from treatment than those with primarily deeper pigment. One day of unprotected sun exposure in a person prone to melasma can undo months of treatment, especially in those with a tendency towards deeper pigment.

This is especially important for women who take birth control pills or hormone supplements or for past melasma sufferers. Once you have successfully lightened up your dark areas, maintenance is needed to keep the skin clear for the long term.