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Melasma

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 Treatment Before & After Photos

AFTER TREATMENTS WITH OBAGI

Chemical Peel Obagi Melasma Before After

BEFORE BRIGHTENING PEEL LEVEL 2 AND 6 WEEKS POST BRIGHTENING PEEL LEVEL 2

Brightening Peel Level 2 Chemical Peel Before After 01 061020

BEFORE BRIGHTENING PEEL LEVEL 2 AND 6 WEEKS POST BRIGHTENING PEEL LEVEL 2

Brightening Peel Level 2 Chemical Peel Before After 02 061020

How Melasma Is Treated


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:

    • Hydroquinone: This topical prescription lightening cream can help reduce pigmentation. It must be used consistently for several months to see results. Your provider will review expectations and proper use with you at your office visit.
    • Tretinoin and corticosteroids: Additional skin lighteners, often used in tandem with hydroquinone.
    • Exfoliating cleansers: Glycolic and/or salicylic acid cleansers help to exfoliate the top layer of the skin and increase cellular turnover resulting in a brightening effect and allow for better penetration of topical treatments.
  • Azelaic acid or kojic acid.
  • Chemical peels and microdermabrasion: There are multiple exfoliating options that can help improve skin texture and pigmentation. These include chemical peels, Dermasweep microdermabrasion and the more intensive VI Peel. Your aesthetician can discuss your concerns with you and help choose the most effective treatment.

Only a qualified dermatologist should perform dermatological procedures to treat melasma. Consult with your physician to determine your best course of treatment.

Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone works to lighten the skin by reducing the number of melanocytes present. Learn More

Corticosteroids

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

Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion, also known as microderm, uses tiny crystals that are sprayed onto the skin to gently remove the outer layer of the epidermis. Learn More

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