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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.
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:
While melasma sometimes appears on the neck or forearms, this is not as common.
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:
While it can happen in men or women, women are far more likely to develop melasma.
Sometimes, melasma can fade on its own over time. This is particularly true when the trigger is hormonal, such as in pregnancy. When melasma does not go away on its own, there are several treatments patients can consider:
Only a qualified dermatologist should perform dermatological procedures to treat melasma. Consult with your physician to determine your best course of treatment.