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(also known as chloasma faciei) is a tan or dark skin discoloration.

Melasma is caused by sun exposure, genetic predisposition, hormone changes, and skin irritation. Although it can affect anyone, melasma is particularly common in women, especially pregnant women and those who are taking oral or patch contraceptives or Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT) medications. Melasma occurs due to the malfunction of the melanocytes (the color-making cells) in the skin, causing them to produce too much colour.

Because of its characteristic appearance, melasma can usually be easily diagnosed by a dermatologist with a skin examination. Biopsy of the skin may be sometimes necessary to differentiate melasma from other conditions.

While some patients have melasma only for a few weeks or months, many have it for years or decades. Pregnancy-associated melasma usually resolves within a few months after delivery, although women in sunny climates may have persistence of the pigmentation for many years. Because the sun and lighting are major causes of melasma, sunscreens are particularly important in any treatment plan. Broad spectrum sunscreens, which protect against UVA and UVB ultraviolet light should be used. Oral contraceptive pills may need to be discontinued if they cause melasma.

Irritating creams or makeup should be stopped, and the skin should be treated as gently as possible. It has a negative impact on the quality of life of patients, affecting their psychological and emotional well-being, which often motivates them to search for a dermatologist.

Melasma can be stubborn, though. It may take a few months of treatment to see improvement. It is important to follow your dermatologist’s advice. This ensures that you get the most benefit from treatment. It also can help avoid skin irritation and other side effects.

Approaches to treatment for melasma involves using skin lightning agents like kojic acid, antioxidants that reduce the free radicals; natural substances like liquorice etc.

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