Melasma is a skin condition which causes brown to gray-brown patches, mostly on the face. In many people it afflicts bridge of nose, forehead, cheeks, chin, and above the upper lip. Patches can also form on parts of the body that are exposed to sun like forearms and neck.

Melasma is treated using preventative measures like sun avoidance and sun protection by applying sunscreen every two hours.  Women are more prone to getting melasma than men and occurrence is more common during pregnancy.

Melasma is thought to occur due to hormonal imbalance during pregnancy or after ingestion of birth control medication, although they can fade if the cause of hormonal imbalance is removed.  However, some unfortunate people can be afflicted by melasma for years or even throughout their life.  If melasma is persistent due to any reason, treatment is available.  These include:

  • Hydroquinone: This topical application is a common first treatment for melasma which lightens the skin. Hydroquinone is available as creams, lotions, gel, or in liquid form. Hydroquinone is available without prescription, although Hydroquinone prescribed by a Dermatologist is more effective.
  • Tretinoin and corticosteroids: In addition to Hydroquinone, the dermatologist may prescribe tretinoin or a corticosteroid. Sometimes, the dermatologist may prescribe a cream which is a combination of hydroquinone, tretinoin, and corticosteroid known as triple cream.
  • Other topical (applied to the skin) medicines: These are Azelaic acid or Kojic acid to help lighten melasma.
  • Procedures: If topical medications fail to cure melasma, then a procedure may succeed. Procedures to treat melasma are dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, chemical peel, laser treatment or a light-based procedure.

Risks of the procedures include new skin problems when the skin type of the person is not taken into consideration.  You will need to have a detail discussion with your Dermatologist about possible risks and side effects that can result from the treatment.