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What Is Melasma?

Also known as chloasma faciei or the “mask of pregnancy,” melasma is a condition that most commonly affects women. It appears as grayish brown patches on the face and can often appear on the forehead, cheeks, nose and chin. Melasma also sometimes shows up on the chest and forearms. Only about 10% of melasma cases happen in men.

Signs and Symptoms of Melasma

Melasma doesn’t cause any physical symptoms that someone might feel. It does cause some visible changes to the skin. Brown patches may appear on the:

  • Bridge of the nose
  • Cheeks
  • Forehead
  • Upper lip
  • Chin

While melasma sometimes appears on the neck or forearms, this is not as common.

What Causes Melasma?

There is no known cause of melasma. It is known that people with more active melanocytes are more likely to develop the condition. Risk factors for melasma include having darker skin or a blood relative who has also had melasma. There are some triggers of the condition, including:

  • Exposure to the sun or UV light.
  • Hormonal shifts, such as those experienced during pregnancy.
  • Birth control pills.
  • Skin care products that irritate the skin.

While it can happen in men or women, women are far more likely to develop melasma.

melasma 1 before

Before Melasma Treatment with Obagi

Female patient with melasma.
melasma 1 after

After Melasma Treatment with Obagi

Results six weeks into using Obagi treatment.
melasma 2 before

Before Melasma Treatment with Brightening Peel

Female patient with enlarged pores.
melasma 2 after

After Melasma Treatment with Brightening Peel

Results seven days after brightening peel.
melasma 3 before

Before Melasma Treatment with Brightening Peel

Female patient with melasma.
melasma 3 after

After Melasma Treatment with Brightening Peel

Results following a brightening peel.

Related Treatments

Brightening Peels

Brightening peels are chemical peels formulated to target pigmentation, including stubborn melasma and sunspots. Learn More

Chemical Peels

A chemical peel works to hasten this process, revealing newer and healthier cells below the skin’s surface. Learn More


A corticosteroid works by suppressing the activity of the immune system and reducing the production of chemicals that create inflammation. Learn More


DermaPeel is our signature aesthetic treatment, which combines a chemical and physical exfoliation. Learn More


The classic facial is our take on the classic spa facial. This pampering treatment includes cleanse and steam. Learn More

Oral and Topical Medications

Dermatologists are experts in bacterial, viral and fungal infections in the skin and have a deep knowledge of how to best use antibiotics, antiviral and antifungal medications. Learn More

VI® Chemical Peels

VI Peels are effective for addressing hyperpigmentation, acne and acne scarring, oily skin, melasma and other skin issues. Learn More

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