Melasma is a common skin problem. It causes brown to grey-brown patches, usually on the face. Most people get it on their cheeks, bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, and above their upper lip. It also can appear on other parts of the body that get lots of sun, such as the forearms and neck. One of the most common treatments for Melasma is sun protection. This means wearing sunscreen every day and reapplying the sunscreen every 2 hours.

Our Dermatologists also recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat when you are outside, and sun smart clothing. Sunscreen alone may not give you the protection you need. Women are far more likely than men to get melasma. It is so common during pregnancy that melasma is sometimes called “the mask of pregnancy.” Hormones seem to trigger melasma.

melasma signs and symptoms

Common signs (what you see) of melasma are brown or grey-brown patches on the face. These patches most commonly appear on the:

  • cheeks

  • forehead

  • bridge of the nose

  • above the upper lip

  • chin

Some people get patches on their forearms or neck. This is less common. Melasma does not cause any symptoms (what people feel). But many people dislike the way melasma makes their skin look. If you dislike these patches, sun protection and treatment can help.

who gets melasma?

Melasma appears on women’s skin much more often than men’s skin. Just 10% of people who get melasma are men.

People with darker skin, such as those of Latin/Hispanic, North African, African-American, Asian, Indian, Middle Easters, or Mediterranean descent are more likely to get melasma. People who have a blood relative who had melasma are also much more likely to get melasma.

what causes melasma?

What causes melasma is not yet clear. It likely occurs when the colour-making cells in the skin (melanocytes) produce too much color. People with skin of color are more prone to melasma because they have more active melanocytes than people with light skin.

Common melasma triggers (what starts it) include:

  • Sun exposure: Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun stimulates the melanocytes. In fact, just a small amount of sun exposure can make melasma return after fading. Sun exposure is why melasma often is worse in summer. It also is the main reason why many people with melasma get it again and again

  • A change in hormones: Pregnant women often get melasma. When melasma appears in pregnant women, it is called chloasma, or the mask of pregnancy. Birth control pills and hormone replacement medicine also can trigger melasma

  • Skin care products: if a product irritates the skin, melasma can worsen

treatment and outcomes

Different treatment options are offered, depending on your unique situation. The Skin Centre can guide you through the process to manage your variation of the condition.

Under a Dermatologists care, many people with melasma have a good outcome. Melasma can be stubborn, though. It may take a few months of regular treatment to see improvement.