melasma

What is melasma?

Melasma, also called ‘chloasma’, is a common skin condition of adults in which light to dark brown or greyish pigmentation develops, mainly on the face. 

Melasma usually becomes more noticeable in the summer and improves during the winter months. It is not an infection, it is not contagious and it is not due to an allergy. Also, it is not cancerous and will not change into skin cancer.

The exact cause is not known, but several factors contribute. These include pregnancy, hormonal drugs such as the contraceptive pill, and very occasionally medical conditions affecting hormone levels. Some cosmetics, especially those containing perfume, can bring on melasma.. It appears darker-than-normal skin affecting the cheeks, forehead, upper lip, nose and chin, usually in a symmetrical manner. It may be limited to the cheeks and nose or just occur overlying the jaw.

At present there is no cure for melasma, but there are several treatment options which may improve the appearance. Superficial pigmentation is easier to treat than deep pigmentation. If melasma occurs during pregnancy, it may resolve on its own within a few months after delivery and treatment may not be necessary.