Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Medically reviewed by Final up to date on Mar 4, 2020.

What’s Melasma (Chloasma)?

Harvard Health Publishing

Melasma is a situation during which areas of the pores and skin grow to be darker than the encompassing pores and skin. Docs name this hyperpigmentation. It usually happens on the face, notably the brow, cheeks and above the higher lip. The darkish patches usually seem on each side of the face in a virtually an identical sample. The darker-colored patches of pores and skin might be any shade, from tan to deep brown. Hardly ever, these darkish patches could seem on different sun-exposed areas of the physique.

Melasma happens rather more usually in girls than in males, and often is related to hormonal adjustments. That’s the reason the darkish patches develop usually throughout being pregnant, or if a lady is taking hormone substitute remedy (HRT) or oral contraceptives. Melasma throughout being pregnant is comparatively widespread. Generally it’s referred to as the “masks of being pregnant” or “chloasma.” The darkish patches usually final till the being pregnant ends.

A very powerful issue within the growth of melasma is publicity to daylight. Utilizing medicines that make you delicate to the solar (photosensitizing) can enhance your threat of growing melasma. These can embody some cosmetics and medicines used to deal with ovarian or thyroid issues. Safety from the solar is a needed a part of remedy of melasma. For instance, girls who’re pregnant or who take a hormone treatment and keep away from the solar are much less prone to develop melasma than are those that spend a number of time within the solar.


Darker patches of pores and skin seem on the brow, temples, cheeks or above the higher lip. The signs are strictly beauty — you will not really feel ailing, and the darker pores and skin will not be sore.


A health care provider will diagnose melasma just by your pores and skin. Your medical historical past will assist to find out any elements which will have brought about the dysfunction.

Your physician could use a particular lamp that provides off ultraviolet gentle. This enables the physician to see patterns and depth of pores and skin discoloration extra clearly.

Anticipated Period

The darkish patches usually final till the being pregnant ends otherwise you cease taking the hormonal medicines and defend from the solar. The patches steadily fade over many months. In some folks, the discoloration by no means solely disappears.


One of the simplest ways to forestall melasma is to restrict pores and skin publicity to the solar. In the event you exit within the solar, take these preventive measures:

  • Put on a hat with a brim to shade and defend your face.
  • Apply solar block (similar to zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) to weak areas.
  • Use sunscreen that protects in opposition to each ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation. The sunscreen ought to have a solar safety issue (SPF) of no less than 30.


As hormones stabilize, the darkish patches of melasma often fade. Ladies who develop melasma on account of being pregnant usually see the patches fade months after the child is born. Ladies who take oral contraceptives or hormone substitute remedy usually see the patches fade as soon as they cease taking the medicines.

A couple of choices could assist fade or deal with darkish patches:

  • Hydroquinone is a cream that takes pigment out of the pores and skin. It blocks the pure chemical course of that results in the creation of melanin, the substance that makes pores and skin darkish.
  • Tretinoin is a sort of vitamin A that helps to extend the speed at which lifeless pores and skin cells fall off and new ones seem. This makes the melasma patch fade extra rapidly because the pigmented cells are shed.
  • Azelaic acid cream seems to work by slowing down or stopping the manufacturing of pigment, the substance that makes the pores and skin darker.
  • Chemical peels are liquid options utilized to the pores and skin to supply a light chemical burn, just like sunburn. Over time, the burned layers peel off, leaving contemporary, new pores and skin. Chemical peels range in energy. Glycolic acid is among the many mildest, and subsequently has a decrease threat of inflicting scarring or pores and skin discoloration. Chemical peels could also be used if melasma doesn’t reply to different remedies.
  • Intense Pulsed Gentle remedy makes use of sure wave lengths of sunshine to focus on and take away pigmented areas of pores and skin.

When To Name a Skilled

See your physician if you happen to develop any unexplained discoloration of the pores and skin. Though melasma doesn’t require remedy, a health care provider can distinguish melasma from different pores and skin issues which will should be handled.


A lot of the discoloration will fade or disappear as soon as hormones stabilize and also you keep out of the solar. For individuals who discover the discolorations unpleasant, remedy could assist to fade cussed patches. You can also use cosmetics to even out the pores and skin shade.

Be taught extra about Melasma (Chloasma)

Related medication

IBM Watson Micromedex

Exterior sources

American Academy of Dermatology

Nationwide Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Pores and skin Ailments


Additional data

All the time seek the advice of your healthcare supplier to make sure the knowledge displayed on this web page applies to your private circumstances.


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