Melisma is a common skin problem. It causes brown to grey-brown patches on the face. Most people get it on their cheeks, bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, and above their upper lip. It also can appear on other parts of the body which get lots of sun exposure, such as the forearms and neck. One of the most common treatments for melasma is sun protection. Which means wearing sunscreen every day and reapplying it every 2 hours. Dermatologists also recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat while you are outside. Sunscreen alone may not give you the protection you need.
Melasma appears on women's skin more often than men's skin. Only 10% of people who get melasma are men. Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun stimulates the melanocytes. In fact, just a small amount of sun exposure can make melasma reoccur. Sun exposure makes melasma often worse in summer. This is the main reason many people with melasma get it repeatedly. Changes in the hormones of pregnant women often causes melasma. Melasma in pregnant women, is called Chloasma, or the mask of pregnancy. Birth control pills and hormone replacement medicine can also trigger melasma. Sometimes, skin care products which irritate the skin may worsen melasma.
Dermatologists can diagnose most patients by looking at their skin. To know how deep the melasma penetrated into the skin, your dermatologist may look at your skin under a device called a Wood's light. Sometimes melasma can look like some other skin condition. To rule out the other skin condition, your dermatologist may remove a small bit of skin which is called a biopsy. A dermatologist can safely and quickly perform a biopsy during an office visit