Melasma

Created: 03.08.2023

Updated: 27.12.2023

Approved by: General Practitioner, Dr Binita Parmar 

Melasma is a common skin condition characterised by dark, uneven patches on the skin. The condition often occurs on the face, especially on the cheeks, forehead, nose, and upper lip, but can also appear on other parts of the body that are exposed to sunlight.

Understanding Melasma

Melasma is not only a cosmetic issue but can also deeply affect the self-esteem of individuals suffering from it. Although it predominantly affects women, especially those with darker skin tones, it can occur in anyone regardless of gender or race.

Causes and triggers

A variety of factors can contribute to the onset of melasma:

  1. Sun exposure: One of the primary causes is sunlight exposure. UV rays stimulate melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing melanin which gives skin its colour, leading to increased pigmentation and the development of dark spots that evolve into melasma.
  2. Hormonal fluctuations: Hormonal changes, often seen during pregnancy, in women on birth control, or undergoing post-menopausal hormone therapy, can trigger this condition. As a result, melasma is frequently observed in women of childbearing age and those who are pregnant.
  3. Other factors: Heat, photosensitive medications, and various other elements can also instigate melasma.

It's crucial to understand these triggers to prevent or manage this skin condition effectively.

Treatment

Melasma, though a harmless skin condition, can pose significant cosmetic concerns for many. Here are the various treatments available for those looking to mitigate its appearance.

  1. Sun protection: This is a primary step in reducing further darkening of the skin.
  2. Skincare products: There are numerous products tailored to treat melasma.
  3. Medications: Various topical treatments may be considered under the recommendation of a doctor, such as Azelaic acid 20% cream and Topical 0.1% tretinoin cream under the guidance of a dermatologist.
  4. Contraceptive choices: Sometimes, a different type of contraceptive might help in preventing the recurrence of melasma.

It's essential to be aware of any cosmetics that may irritate the skin and exacerbate the condition. If melasma or any other skin concern is suspected, the best course of action is to consult with a dermatologist or skin specialist. They can offer an accurate diagnosis and curate a treatment plan tailored to individual needs.

Prognosis

Often, melasma resolves on its own or significantly diminishes. However, it might recur during subsequent pregnancies or due to changes in contraceptive methods. In some cases, if it reappears, it may persist for several years or even become a lifelong condition.

Doctor
General Practitioner

At Dr.Dropin our experienced GPs provide a wide range of primary care services, similar to those provided by the NHS, either in the clinic or through video consultations.

Dermatologist

At Dr.Dropin, you will receive specialist care from our expert Consultant Dermatologists provided by skindoc. With extensive experience from both public and private hospitals, we can assess and treat most chronic and acute skin disorders – either in the clinic, through video, or via a photo upload service.