Melasma Skin Condition: Everything You Should Know

Melasma is a benign pigmentation of the skin. However, it can significantly affect the self-esteem of the person who has it. Learn more in this article!
Melasma Skin Condition: Everything You Should Know

Last update: 08 June, 2021

Melasma is a skin condition also known as chloasma, or pregnancy mask. It consists of the appearance of dark brownish spots on the skin that’s normally exposed to the sun, especially on the face.

The name pregnancy mask comes from the fact that doctors often associate melasma with women who are pregnant. Similarly, it often appears in women taking contraceptive methods. However, it can affect anyone and can last for a long time.

It’s difficult to say exactly how prevalent it is but, according to studies, it affects between 15 and 56% of pregnant women. Therefore, in this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about melasma, its causes, and how to treat it.

Why does melasma occur?

Melasma, as we’ve mentioned, consists of hyperpigmentation that appears in areas of the skin exposed to the sun. In other words, they’re darker colored spots that appear mainly on the cheeks, forehead, and nose. However, they can also appear on the forearms, chest, etcetera.

These spots are the result of increased melanin production. Melanin is the pigment that gives color to our skin. Its production can vary according to many factors, such as the levels of certain hormones.

This explains why it’s much more common for melasma to appear in pregnant women or women taking contraceptives. In both situations, there’s an alteration in the levels of certain hormones, such as estrogens.

However, we must bear in mind that, although less common, this issue can also appear in men. The truth is that it’s a benign condition that doesn’t affect a person’s health. Even so, it’s true that it can greatly affect the self-esteem of those who suffer from it.

For melasma to develop, there must be a certain genetic predisposition. Apart from hormonal factors, research shows that exposure to sunlight influences its appearance. Similarly, certain drugs or cosmetics can trigger it.

Types of melasma skin condition

The skin is divided into three different zones, according to their depth: epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. There are different types of melasma depending on the area.

  • Epidermal melasma. This affects the most superficial layer of the skin and has brown spots with well-defined borders.
  • Dermal melasma is deeper and the spots are blue-gray in color.
  • Combined melasma is a mixture of both.
A woman with a skin condition

Diagnosis and treatment

Since melasma is a skin condition, the ideal thing to do is to always consult a dermatologist for a correct diagnosis. This is important because it must be differentiated from other skin lesions that may be precancerous.

As we’ve mentioned, it’s benign and usually disappears on its own. However, most melasma indeed tends to reappear. Therefore, treatment should also include preventive measures.

We recommend avoiding sun exposure and, if it does occur, you should always use high protection sunscreen, whether in summer or winter. Research has shown that the sun is one of the most influential factors in its reappearance.

In addition, there are different treatment options to remove the spots. Firstly, the doctor may prescribe drugs in the form of creams, such as hydroquinone, or they can perform a peeling of the lesion area. On the other hand, in some cases, specialists opt for laser treatment.

However, it’s up to the physician to recommend the most appropriate treatment according to the characteristics of each individual.

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