Melasma is a common skin condition characterized by the development of dark, irregular patches on the skin, typically on the face. It predominantly affects women, although men can also experience it. Melasma is thought to be influenced by hormonal changes and sun exposure. While the exact cause is not fully understood, factors such as genetics, hormonal fluctuations (especially during pregnancy or while taking birth control pills), and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation are believed to contribute to its development.

Key points

Symptom appearance

Melasma presents as brown, gray-brown, or tan patches on the face, most commonly on the cheeks, forehead, nose, and upper lip. The patches usually have a symmetrical distribution and may vary in size and shape.


Sun exposure is a significant trigger for melasma. UV radiation can stimulate the production of melanin (the pigment responsible for skin color), leading to the darkening of melasma patches. Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during pregnancy or with hormonal medications, can also contribute to its onset or worsening.


A dermatologist can typically diagnose melasma based on a visual examination of the skin. In some cases, a Wood’s lamp examination may be used to assess the depth and extent of pigmentation.


Here are some general recommendations that are often suggested for managing melasma. However, it’s important to consult with our healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment options. Here are some common recommendations for managing melasma:

The first step in managing melasma is strict sun protection. This includes wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF daily (several times during the day abd even when indoors), seeking shade, and wearing a wide-brimmed hat and protective clothing. Sun exposure can worsen melasma and make it more challenging to treat.

Melasma is a chronic condition that requires ongoing maintenance to manage its appearance. This includes continued sun protection, regular use of prescribed topical medications, and periodic treatments as recommended by our dermatologist.

Prescription-strength topical creams or gels containing ingredients such as hydroquinone, retinoids, corticosteroids, kojic acid or azelaic acid can be used to lighten melasma patches. These medications are typically applied directly to the affected areas and work by reducing pigmentation and evening out skin tone.

Certain in-office procedures can be effective for treating melasma, including chemical peels, microneedling, PRP and hydrafacial treatments. These procedures aim to reduce pigmentation and promote skin rejuvenation. We personally discourage strong peelings, microdermabrasion and strong lasers as this may worsen the condition at the end. In some cases, a combination of topical medications and procedures may be recommended for optimal results.

In some cases, a combination of topical medications may be prescribed to enhance their effectiveness. For example, a combination of hydroquinone, tretinoin (a retinoid), and a corticosteroid may be used for a short period to target melasma more aggressively.

It’s important to note that melasma can be challenging to treat, and results may vary among individuals. Our healthcare professional specializing in skin conditions can assess the severity of melasma and tailor a treatment plan to meet the individual’s needs. Consistency and patience are key in managing melasma effectively.


While melasma is a chronic condition, so far we have not been able to cure it but there are several treatment options available to manage and improve its appearance. These can include:

Protecting your skin from the sun is crucial in managing melasma. Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF (30 or higher) every day, even on cloudy days and indoors. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially if you’re spending time outdoors. Wear wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and seek shade when the sun is strongest.

Treating melasma takes time and consistency. Results may not be immediate, and it’s important to follow your dermatologist’s recommendations and treatment plan consistently. Be patient and continue your skincare routine as advised.

Use mild, non-irritating skincare products and avoid harsh exfoliants or scrubs that can aggravate the skin. Opt for gentle cleansers, moisturizers, and makeup that are suitable for your skin type and do not trigger irritation or sensitivity.

Schedule regular follow-up appointments with your dermatologist to monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

If hormonal factors are contributing to your melasma, such as during pregnancy or while taking hormonal medications, it’s important to discuss with our healthcare provider. They may advise on hormonal management strategies or alternative medications to minimize the impact on melasma.


Melasma can be a stubborn condition, and individual responses to treatments can vary. Working closely with a dermatologist can help you find the most appropriate treatment options for your specific case. She can provide personalized recommendations based on the severity of your melasma and your skin type.