Melasma 101

Melasma Treatment

Melasma Treatment in the San Diego Area

Skin pigmentation disorders like melasma (sometimes known as “pregnancy mask” or “chloasma”) can be bothersome and progressive. Consultation is recommended to develop the best course of treatment. Our office is located in the downtown Gaslamp district of San Diego.

What is Melasma?

Melasma, sometimes referred to as “pregnancy mask” or “chloasma” when it occurs during pregnancy, is a skin pigmentation disorder. Melasma appears as areas of patchy brown pigmentation on sun exposed areas, usually affecting the:

  • forehead
  • glabella (in between the eyebrows)
  • cheeks
  • upper lip
  • chin

Although less common, melasma can also appear on the neck and forearms. Individuals affected are almost always female, with darker skinned individuals being more susceptible than those with fair skin.

What causes Melasma?

Melasma is caused by overproduction of pigment in melanocytes, the pigment producing cells in the skin. Exposure to ultraviolet light, in particular, makes these areas darker, even with minimal exposure to the sun. Female hormones seem to play a role, as pregnancy, hormone therapy, and birth control pills all aggravate melasma. In addition to the roles of hormones and sun exposure, both heat and inflammation seem to also aggravate the condition.

Is there a cure for Melasma?

No.  Melasma is a condition that we can often control and improve greatly, but not cure. It is important that melasma patients understand continual maintenance of some form including proper sun protection and brightening regimens are required for good control and lightening of the melasma brown patches.

How is Melasma treated?

Treatment options for patients with melasma can vary and can include topical retinoids, bleaching agents (e.g. hydroquinone and certain botanical actives), and strict photo-protection including physical blocking sunscreen agents containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Vitality peel, a topical, medical-grade peel consisting of both hydroquinone and a retinoid, is extremely effective in treating melasma. For booking info or a consultation, click here.