Melasma: Causes, Symptoms, Types, Treatments & Prevention Tips

Melasma is a pigmentation issue which degrades your skin tone and appearance. It may cause premature aging in adult women. Even though melasma is a benign skin disease, its chronicity and consistency make it challenging to treat.

Our skilled dermatologists can treat various pigmentary concerns, like melasma, with advanced USFDA-approved treatment with proven safety and efficiency to help you reacquire your flawless complexion. Find out about our melasma treatment in detail.

What Is Melasma?

Melasma, also known as chloasma or mask of pregnancy, is a skin disorder which causes blue-gray and flat brownish patches on your skin, mostly on your face. It is a common issue among adults, mainly women. The disease’s common risk factor is sun exposure. Melasma is a chronic pigmentary issue that wanes and waxes but tends to resist treatment.

Where Does Melasma Commonly Occur?

Melasma tends to occur mainly on your face, including cheeks, forehead, bridge of the nose, and chin. Besides the face, melasma may appear on the exposed skin of your back, neck, and forearms. 

What Are The Types Of Melasma?

Dermatologists distinguish the types of melasma below depending on the depth of the skin discoloration:

Epidermal Melasma 

The melanin deposits in the top layer of your skin, i.e., the epidermis, cause dark brown patches with defined borders. This advanced type of melasma reacts best to treatment.

Dermal Melasma

The pigment accumulation in the dermis and the deeper skin layer aren’t easily accessible. It causes the appearance of bluish-gray and light brown diffused patches, which react negatively to a treatment. 

Mixed Melasma 

Mixed melasma causes different color patches in the dermis and epidermis. It is the most common type of melasma. The treatment response varies depending on the amount and location of melanin accumulation. 

Signs And Symptoms Of Melasma

The signs and symptoms of melasma include freckle-like spots, diffused or defined patches, and flat patches of gray, blue, or brown color. 

Flat patches of brown, blue, or gray color. The patches appear symmetrically on the jawline, chin, nose, forehead, and cheeks. 

What Causes Melasma?

Here are two primary causes of melasma:

Sun/UV Exposure 

Your skin can produce extra melanin if exposed to UV rays from the sun or laptop/TV screens. Melasma can worsen if your skin gets exposed to the sun after treatment. 

Hormonal Imbalances 

Dermatologists tend to correlate melasma with sensitivity to progesterone and estrogen. Melasma is more common in pregnant women and those consuming high doses of hormonal contraceptive pills. Hormonal imbalances during menopause or conditions like hypothyroidism may often cause or degrade melasma. 

Besides these two causes, find below the other causes:

Family History 

You have a high risk of getting melasma if you have a positive history of this disease in your family. 

Chemical-based Skincare Products 

Skin Care products containing chemicals and fragrances may irritate your skin and cause melasma. 

Dark Skin Color 

Dark-skinned people tend to develop melasma more than air-skinned people. 

How To Diagnose Melasma?

Our dermatologists diagnose melasma by clinically checking the discolored skin. We may use Wood’s lamp method to observe your skin under blue light to check the pigmentation level. Our experts may perform a biopsy on the affected body part to confirm the diagnosis under a microscope.

What Is The Treatment For Melasma?

With the availability of many advanced treatments, the response of melasma to treatments varies. No single treatment option can ensure total and permanent relief from melasma. At Clinic Next Face, we will personalize your treatment and suggest frequent maintenance to decrease melasma and prevent a recurrence. 

Our experts may recommend any of the options below as singular or combination treatment depending on the type, cause, and severity of the skin condition:

Oral or Topical Medications 

Medications, mainly topical creams, are often the first line of treatment and a crucial part of post-care. Such medications may include:

Hydroquinone  

Our dermatologist may suggest hydroquinone with a concentration of 2 to 4% as the basic treatment for melasma. You can apply it on the patches at night for 3 to 4 months. Extended use can intensify pigmentation. 

Retinoids 

We tend to use tretinoin with hydroquinone or other bleaching agents at night to improve the results of melasma treatment.

Bleaching Agents 

Skin-lightening agents, such as Vitamin C, arbutin, glycolic acid, azelaic acid, and kojic acid can decrease melanin synthesis and lighten the pigmented patches. Our doctor may add bleaching agents to your post-care routine as long-term maintenance therapy to minimize the chances of melasma recurrence.

Tranexamic Acid 

A newer molecule in oral, injectable, or topical form to treat melasma is quite effective and may be an inclusion in a combination treatment.

Hormonal Medications 

Our dermatologist may check your hormonal health and suggest you discontinue medicines that may cause melasma. 

Advanced Procedural Treatments 

Here are the in-clinic treatments that our dermatologist may recommend you to achieve the visible results of melasma treatment:

Chemical Peels 

Applying various concentrations of natural extracts, such as kojic acid and glycolic acid, on your discolored skin for controlled exfoliation of the topmost skin layer, prevents melanin formation. It mostly works in decreasing epidermal melasma. However, you may require multiple sessions of chemical peel treatment at frequent intervals or after every few weeks to get visible results.

Laser Treatment 

Our dermatologists are well-trained to use the advanced USFDA-approved Q-switched Nd:YAG laser technology. The laser treatment cures deeper melasma that doesn’t react to topical medicines and peeling. The laser beam gets into the deeper layers to break down the extra melanin without ruining the surrounding skin. 

The precise treatment may require multiple sessions depending on the type and level of your skin condition to deliver the best results and for frequent maintenance. Preventing exposure to UV rays is the most vital step in treating melasma, as mild sun damage can boost, trigger or cause recurrence. You should use sun protection with every treatment method.

How To Prevent Melasma?

There are, as such, no specific ways to prevent melasma. However, you should follow the measures below to diminish the risk of melasma and recurrence:

Avoid Unnecessary Sun Exposure 

Don’t go out in peak sunlight hours. Wear protective gear, such as umbrellas, sunglasses, and scarves, to prevent melasma and other types of sun damage to the skin.

Apply Sunscreen on Your Skin Everyday 

Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or more, recommended by your dermatologist, 15 to 20 minutes before stepping out in the sun. Reapply after every three hours on your skin to prevent melasma and lighten current pigmentation.

Follow a Healthy Diet and Skincare Routine 

A nutritious diet with vitamin D and a proper skincare routine helps to keep your skin healthy and protect it from disorders, including discoloration.

Limit Taking Hormonal Pills 

Consult our doctor to limit the consumption of hormonal pills if you have a positive family history of melasma skin condition.

Frequently Asked Questions on Skin Lightening

Dark-skinned women are always at higher risk of melasma than men. You have a high chance of having melasma if you have a family history, take hormonal medicines, and get exposed to the sun every day. Pregnancy can also be a risk factor for melasma. 

Melasma is not cancerous and can’t get malignant in the future. As skin cancers sometimes cause discoloration, visiting a dermatologist quickly helps to confirm your diagnosis.

Melasma is chronic skin discoloration, which may fade naturally in pregnancy-related cases or after treatment. However, the risk of future recurrence stays.  Melasma might get permanent and unreactive to treatment in certain cases.

Melasma is asymptomatic and not painful. You won’t experience any irritation, itchiness, or pain. 

Food causes and worsens melasma. Dermatologists suggest a Vitamin D-rich diet to get healthy skin that may minimize the chances of melasma for a long time. 

No, melasma can’t appear overnight. You can see discolored patches that occur due to melasma formation over months to years.

No, freckles and melasma aren’t the same. Melasma may sometimes start with freckle-like spots. They have a familial tendency and tract positively to our treatment.

Why Clinic Next Face?

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We commit to provide customized treatments and setting right expectations before treatments.

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Why CNF

Experienced in-house team of Certified Dermatologists, Nutritionists and Image Consultants.

India's First Anti-Ageing Clinic which takes holistic approach to make you look and feel younger. ​

We commit to provide customized treatments and setting right expectations before treatments.​

1 Lakh + HAPPY Customers