Melasma is a common skin condition where pigment producing cells are hyperactive, causing areas of uneven, darker skin color on the face. Melasma is often chronic and recurring which is usually disconcerting and frustrating for many people.
Melasma is most common in women of reproductive age, but it can also be seen in men. One hallmark is that melasma tends to occur on skin that has high sun exposure – typically the face.
Some causes of melasma include genetics, hormone changes, pregnancy, and medications (especially estrogen-containing birth control therapies).
There are many different treatments available for melasma. Often, discontinuing an offending medication, such as a birth control pill, can result in improvement. Yet, the most important treatment (and subsequent prevention) of melasma is consistent protection against sun exposure. This includes sun avoidance, sun-protective clothing, and high-quality physical sunscreens (SPF 30+, zinc oxide content >5%).Check out our sunscreens in our store.
TOPICAL THERAPY: Hydroquinone 4% cream is a prescription skin lightening agent that is often a first-line treatment for melasma. It must be used for several months to see improvement. Your provider may recommend a combination of prescription topical medications that work synergistically to treat melasma. One particular combination is tretinoin cream in conjunction with hydroquinone. Other topical therapy options include azelaic acid or kojic acid. Often, your dermatology provider will recommend a treatment regimen which includes both prescription and over-the-counter products to best address your melasma. Check out products to address melasma in our store.
OTHER TREATMENTS: Chemical peels, laser, and light-based treatments may be utilized to treat certain types of stubborn melasma. These modalities are typically used along with topical therapies to achieve the best results. These treatments are not covered by insurance.