Melasma or chloasma (also called
"the mask of pregnancy") is a discoloration
of the facial skin, often affecting women during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Melasma
The symptoms of melasma are:
- Tan, dark brown patches
- Irregular in shape
These patches usually develop on the upper cheek, lips and forehead.
Melasma: skin discoloration usually seen
Causes of Melasma
It is thought that female sex hormones causes melanocytes or
the pigment-producing cells to produce and deposit excess pigments.
Who Gets It?
Melasma is commonly associated with pregnant women, women taking
birth control pills, and those who are undergoing hormone replacement
therapy (HRT). However, this condition develops spontaneously
in some women who are neither pregnant, taking oral contraceptives,
nor HRT medications.
Treatment of Melasma
The dark spots usually go away by themselves - however, this
process can take a very long time. It is not unusual to have the
condition persist for months or years after giving birth or stopping
taking birth control pill.
Treatment to lighten the dark spots include:
- Cosmetics to cover and hide the spots
- Over-the-counter lightening cream with 2% hydroquinone
- Prescription lightening cream with 4% hydroquinone
- Tritenoin cream
- Chemical peel using alpha-hydroxy acids
- Laser treatment
Lotions with high SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or greater
should be worn if you have melasma, because sunlight and ultraviolet
lights can make them worse.