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What is Melasma?

Melasma is excess pigmentation of the skin, leading to dark, brown spots on the skin. These spots are usually seen on the cheeks, forehead in a symmetrical manner. In some case, melasma can affect the nose and upper lip too. Let us read about the symptoms, causes and treatment for melasma

Causes of melasma

1. Hormonal causes-Women are known to be more affected by melasma compared to men. In other words, an overabundance of female hormones progesterone and estrogen can lead to melasma. Pregnant women and those who take birth control medication or undergoing hormone replacement therapy are at more risk for melasma. The hormone that causes melanin production MSH is more in pregnant women, which is why the skin disease is also called ‘mask of pregnancy’ or ‘Cholasma’. Men who undergo hormonal treatment particularly for prostate cancer are known to be at risk of melasma.

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2. Genes- Genetics also have a role to play in the cause of melasma. . Individuals with darker skin tone, such as those from African or tropical descent, may be at risk for Melasma. 60 percent of melasma cases have a family history as well

3. Sun exposure- Exposure to the sun is no doubt a huge cause of melasma. It is not startling that people who already have high melanin like dark complexioned individuals can find skin flare up to form dark brown spots under the sun

4. Medication- A drug known as Dilantin has been singled out for causing melasma. Anti-malarials, anti-seizures and tetracycline can also be possible causes of Melasma. People with thyroid conditions also generate surplus melanin and the MSH hormone

Melasma Symptoms

They are in the form of uneven dark patches on the forehead, cheeks, lips and nose, in a symmetrical manner. The patches can spread out over a period of time. Apart from cosmetic problems, there is no other harm.

Melasma Treatment

Melasma can go on its own accord once the person stops causative pr


1. Sunscreen protection- Excess pigmentation through melanin can be identified using a Wood lamp. Depending on the state at which the pigment is detected, melasma may be epidermal, dermal or mixed. Dermal form of melasma is when the spot appears black or bluish. The biggest spoilsport for the treatment is the sun. So the first and foremost thing is to apply sun-screen creams that have titanium dioxide or zinc oxide because the protect the skin against broader range of UV light.

2. Topical depigmentation creams- This includes hydroquinone (HQ) at 2-4 percent concentration; hydroquinone reduces the production of tyrosinase, an enzyme that increases melanin production

3. Application of Azelaic acid at a concentration of 20% can be useful too.

4. Chemical peels with glycolic acid or facial peel with alpha hydroxyacids can also improve the skin tone and reduce the dark brown spots considerably

5. Laser treatment is one of the best recommended treatments for melasma specially if it is on a dermal level. Fraxel laser can lighten the skin accompanied with Triulma cream which has mandelic acid.


Melasma Pictures

Check out the pictures of Melasma to see how the skin is affected by the disease


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