Medical Conditions

Melasma

Melasma is a patchy brown discoloration that appears on your face, often on your forehead, cheeks, or upper lip. It is aggravated by both hormones and sunlight, which stimulate the growth of pigment cells (melanocytes). For this reason, melasma is more noticeable in the summer months and in those who are pregnant, taking birth control pills, or undergoing hormone-replacement therapy (HRT). Melasma can be difficult to treat and has a tendency to recur. Sun protection is key and should include the frequent application of a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB. Your provider might also recommend prescription or nonprescription “bleaching” creams, many of which are plant based. Chemical peels and microdermabrasion help remove unwanted pigment from your skin. Photorejuvention light therapy (IPL) targets the brown pigment and may help fade the discoloration as well. You can discuss these options in more detail with your provider.