Melasma is a skin condition that leads to brown patches on the skin. These patches usually appear on the cheeks, nose, forehead, chin, and upper lip. Patches can also appear on the neck and forearms.
Melasma is common in pregnant women. It is not a harmful condition.
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The level of melanin increases in the body. Melanin causes the brown patches. It is not clear why this increase happens. Factors that may play a role include:
Melasma is more common in women during their reproductive years. It can occur in men. Other factors that increase may your chance of melasma include:
Dark patches of skin.
You will be asked about your symptoms and past health. Your skin will be examined. The doctor can often make the diagnosis based on the appearance of the skin.
Melasma may go away on its own. If it does not go away, it may need to be treated. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Creams with medicine may help to lighten skin color. The creams may contain one or more of the following:
It may take several months to see an improvement.
The brown patches may also be lightened with:
To help reduce your chance of getting melasma:
American Academy of Dermatology
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Dermatology Association
Public Health Agency of Canada
Melasma. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/m---p/melasma. Accessed December 28, 2018.
Melasma. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/melasma.html. Updated August 2018. Accessed December 28, 2018.
Melasma. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aocd.org/?page=Melasma. Accessed December 28, 2018.
Tierney EP, Hanke CW. Review of the literature: Treatment of dyspigmentation with fractionated resurfacing. Dermatol Surg. 2010 Oct;36(10):1499-508.
Treatments of common complaints in pregnant women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114465/Treatments-of-common-complaints-in-pregnant-women. Updated February 1, 2016. Accessed December 28, 2018.
Last reviewed June 2018 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 12/27/2018