Site Map

Melasma

Chloasma; Mask of pregnancy; Pregnancy mask

Melasma is a skin condition that causes patches of dark skin on areas of the face exposed to the sun.

I Would Like to Learn About:

Causes

Melasma is a common skin disorder. It most often appears in young women with brownish skin tone, but it can affect anyone.

Melasma is often associated with the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is common in:

Being in the sun makes melasma more likely to develop. The problem is more common in tropical climates.

Symptoms

The only symptom of melasma is a change in skin color. However, this color change can cause distress about your appearance.

The skin color changes are most often an even brown color. They often appear on the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip. Dark patches are often symmetrical.

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider will look at your skin to diagnose the problem. A closer exam using a device called a Wood's lamp (which uses ultraviolet light) may help guide your treatment.

Treatment

Treatments may include:

Outlook (Prognosis)

Melasma often fades over several months after you stop taking hormone medicines or your pregnancy ends. The problem may come back in future pregnancies or if you use these medicines again. It may also come back from sun exposure.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have darkening of your face that does not go away.

Prevention

The best way to lower your risk for melasma due to sun exposure is to protect your skin from the sun and ultraviolet (UV) light.

Things you can do to lower your exposure to sunlight include:

Other things to know about sun exposure:

References

Dinulos JGH. Light-related diseases and disorders of pigmentation. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 19.

James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM. Disturbances of pigmentation. In: James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 36.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 11/10/2020  

Reviewed By: Ramin Fathi, MD, FAAD, Director, Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group, Phoenix, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2022 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.