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Melasma is a common hyperpigmentation disorder that causes brown patches and spots primarily on the skin of the face.
There are different types of melasma, depending on what skin layer it affects.
While melasma isn’t painful and doesn’t present any health risks, it may make you feel self-conscious and is therefore often treated for cosmetic reasons.
Melasma causes dark patches of the skin. Typical symptoms of melasma include:
Melasma can be triggered by a number of factors including sun exposure, pregnancy, hormones, some medications and stress. It may have a genetic component, as it often runs in families and is usually more common in women.
Melasma can be a difficult form of pigmentation to treat, but there has been some success using topical lightening creams, some of which are only available after seeing a doctor. Treatment with laser and/or chemical peels may also be helpful depending on the type of melasma. Avoiding the sun and diligent use of broad-spectrum sunscreen is a vital part of managing melasma.
A strict sunscreen regimen is essential in the management of melasma. Always look for sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB (broad-spectrum) rays. Physical (mineral) sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium oxide are typically best. Your clinician will recommend additional skin care products most beneficial for your individual needs.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for melasma so it will require ongoing maintenance. Diligent use of sunscreen, practicing sun safety and avoiding the sun as much as possible are the most important things you can do to minimise melasma. Ongoing use of topical products may be necessary. Maintenance laser and/or chemical peel treatments may also be recommended.