Melasma

Melasma is caused by excess sun exposure and is a dark skin discoloration that is experienced on the face. This condition is caused by excess sun exposure and is not life-threatening or dangerous however it is a very real concern as it causes a discoloration to the smoothness and evenness of the facial skin. There are several types of makeup that are designed to help blend this type of skin discoloration.

There are no accompanying symptoms with melasma. A special light called a Woods Lamp will be used by the physician to determine if the discoloration is melasma and to what degree.   This discoloration is usually symmetrical and affects both sides of the face evenly. A uniform brown staining color can be seen on the cheeks, four head, upper lip and nose and is a cosmetic concern.

Melasma can be associated with excess sun exposure as well as hormonal changes in estrogen and progesterone. It is more common in pregnant women, women on birth control pills and women taking hormonal therapy during menopause. This condition is most common in tropical climates where sun exposure is commonly enjoyed year-round.

There are creams available which are used to effectively treat melasma. When these creams are ineffective the doctor may suggest a stronger cream which contains steroids or a chemical peel. In very severe cases a laser treatment will be used to remove the dark pigment stain from the face. The laser treatment will result in quick and permanent removal of the discoloration. However, the origin or cause of the discoloration will still need to be addressed.

It is suggested that pregnant women and those exposed to a change in hormones avoid excess sun exposure. Sunscreen will help to prevent melasma but should be used in conjunction with a hat and protective clothing. The dark discoloration often vanishes on its own or slowly fades over several months after stopping the use of birth-control pills or hormonal treatments for menopause or after the baby is born. A physician will be able to determine the most effective treatment to utilize. Cosmetic makeup is usually not completely effective in blending the discoloration and women desire to find a more permanent answer for the discoloration.