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About Melasma

Don’t stay in the dark about this common skin condition —learn more about melasma.

What is melasma?

Don’t stay in the dark about this common skin condition —learn more about melasma.

No one is really certain exactly what

causes melasma, but there are many factors that can trigger it including pregnancy, birth control pills, hormone therapy, cosmetics and anti-seizure medications. Because melasma is so common during pregnancy, it is sometimes referred as “The Mask of Pregnancy.” Sun exposure is also a major melasma trigger because ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can increase melanin production.

Melasma is a common skin condition

that causes the appearance of brown to gray-brown patches of skin due to the body producing too much melanin, a natural substance that gives color to our hair, skin and eyes. It usually appears on the face, although it can also develop on the forearms and neck.

Who gets melasma?

Melasma can occurin all women between the age of 20-50 years.

Only a doctor can diagnose whether you have melasma, but as a general rule,

melasma appears as brown or gray-brown patches or spots on the face.

Dermatologists are able to diagnose most patients just by looking at their skin,

though in some cases, a skin biopsy is necessary to confirm that the brown patches are melasma.

Melasma can affect anyone, but people with darker skin tones, including those of

Latin, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and North African descent, and people with a family history of melasma are more likely to suffer from the condition.

Can melasma be prevented?

You cannot prevent melasma in every case, but there are measures you can take that may help reduce your risk of developing it.

Minimizing your exposure to sunlight

can help prevent further darkening of existing melasma as well as the formation of new patches. Most dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen every day. Look for one that offers broad-spectrum protection (that means it blocks both UVA and UVB rays), and has an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher.

Even the level of sun exposure you

can get from sitting next to a window can be enough to trigger melasma if your skin is unprotected, so it’s critical to wear sunscreen every day, regardless of whether or not you plan on being outdoors.

Melasma treatment options are

available for a variety of skin types and tones, but only your doctor can help you decide which treatment option is right for your skin. If you think you have melasma, start by making an appointment.