What is Melasma- Causes, Symptoms & Treatment.


Are you noticing dark patches on your face or some parts of your body lately? They could start as small spots and grow bigger over time. If you do, there is a high possibility of you having melasma. This is a skin condition often referred to as the “pregnancy mask” as it mostly surfaces in pregnant women. However, it can also occur due to hormonal fluctuations in the body in both men and women too. Today’s post will delve deeper into the subject of melasma to find out its causes, symptoms and treatment. So, stay with us till the end!

An overview of melasma

Melasma is also known as chloasma (pregnancy mask) when it occurs in women who are pregnant. Generally, women are more prone to this condition over men. However, in some cases, men can get melasma for hormonal imbalance. The American Academy of Dermatology says 90% of individuals who develop melasma are women so it is important for them to immediately consult a skilled dermatologist to treat this condition. 

Key Causes 

The causes of melasma are actually not clear to the medical community.  However, darker skinned people are more prone to it than their fairer peers. When one has a sensitivity to progesterone and estrogen, melasma occurs. For instance, consuming pills for birth control, hormone therapy and pregnancy often trigger this condition. Issues with your thyroid and stress can also result in melasma as well. 

Besides the above, sun exposure without proper sunscreen protection will cause melasma. The UV or the ultraviolent rays of the sun affect the skin cells that control melanocytes (skin pigment) resulting in dark patches. 

Common Symptoms of melasma



Melasma leads to discolored skin patches. They are darker than your normal skin tone and surface mostly on your face. Excessive sun exposure can also result in melasma and the patches, generally dark brown to black in color can be seen on the forehead, bridge of your nose, cheeks and chin.

In some people, this discoloration can also be seen on the forearms and neck. The condition causes no physical harm to your body however, it does bring down your self-esteem as you become conscious about it especially around other people. 

The moment, you see melasma surfacing on your skin, you must visit a dermatologist immediately. 


When it comes to the diagnosis of melasma, a visible examination of the affected area is enough to detect the condition. However, in order to get to the root cause of the problem, your dermatologist might recommend some other physical tests. 

A commonly preferred testing technique for melasma is the Wood’s Lamp Examination. Here, a special light is held to the affected region to detect traces of any bacteria or fungal infection. The dermatologist also uses this examination to check how many layers of your skin has been affected by melasma. 

If the condition seems serious, you might even be advised to go in for a skin biopsy. This procedure entails the removal of a small piece of your skin for tests. 

Line of Treatment



In most cases, melasma disappears naturally on its own. This occurs with pregnant women after delivery and when one stops taking birth control tablets. 

Your dermatologist might prescribe specific creams that work on melasma to lighten these dark patches. They are topical steroids that need to be applied to the affected regions. In case, you fail to see visible results, your doctor might advise a chemical peel, microdermabrasion or dermabrasion as other options. These treatments are extensive in nature and they strip the upper layers of the skin that have been affected. This helps you to lighten the patches. 

Will melasma come back after treatment? 

However, you must note that the above procedures are treatments only. They do not guarantee melasma will not come back. There are again some severe cases of melasma that cannot be made lighter. In such a case, you need to visit your dermatologist regularly for follow-up treatments and stick to a regime skincare routine with special products. They do help you to some extent.

When it comes to general protection, make sure you reduce your exposure to the sun and always wear a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 daily, even when you are inside your home. The other precautions you can take are- 

  • Wear large brimmed hats when out in the sun
  • Use makeup to cover dark patches
  • Take prescribed medicines 
  • Wear clothes that protect you from the sun. 
  • Eat and balanced diet 
  • Stay hydrated 
  • Stay away from unhealthy habits like alcohol and smoking 

In case, you are still conscious about this condition, talk to your healthcare provider. Join a counseling group where you will meet individuals suffering from melasma or someone you trust to make you feel better about yourself. 

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