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Melasma, also known as Chloasma-when it occurs during pregnancy, are dark, grey-brown patches that usually affect the face. It is a common skin problem in adults and the patches appear on areas such as forehead, cheeks, upper lip and chin. Sometimes the neck and forearms can also be affected.

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What causes Melasma?

The exact cause of Melasma is not fully understood but we know that the skin cells called melanocytes produce too much pigment. It is also known that people with darker skin types (Asian, Latinoamerican) are more susceptible to Melasma because they have more active melanocytes.

What are the triggers?

  • Sun exposure: ultraviolet light stimulates the pigment producing cells, the melanocytes so you will find that melasma always worsen in summer. The sun is the major exacerbating factor
  • Hormonal changes: pregnancy, oral contraceptives or hormone therapy will trigger/worsen melasma
  • Genetic predisposition

What treatment are effective?

The most important part of the treatment is strict sun protection with a broad spectrum ( against UVB and UVA) sunblock SPF 50 or above . Regular use of sun protection enhances the effectiveness of melasma treatments.

Melasma can be difficult to clear and can recur. The common treatments are listed below and are often used in combination

  • Creams containing Hydroquinone , Azelaic acid
  • Chemical peels
  • Dermabrasion
  • Topical and oral Tranexamic acid

Do lasers work for melasma?

Laser therapy is not the primary choice to treat melasma. It doesn’t always work and in fact some laser treatments may worsen the hyperpigmentation.

Can I prevent melasma?

Prevention is difficult particularly if you have a family history of melasma. Taking extra care to minimise facial sun exposure is the best way of minimising the chances of melasma developing.
If you would like to discuss treatment options, book an appointment to see one of our Dermatologists.