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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Skin Disorders Melasma


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Melasma is a dark skin discoloration that appears on sun-exposed areas of the face.


  • Young women with brownish skin tones are at greatest risk
  • Melasma is often associated with the female hormones estrogen and progesterone
  • More common in pregnant women, women who are taking birth control pills (oral contraceptives) and women taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during menopause
  • Sun exposure is also a strong risk factor for melasma. The condition is particularly common in tropical climates

Signs & Symptoms

  • Melasma causes skin discoloration but may be of great cosmetic concern.
  • A uniform brown color is usually seen over the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip.
  • It is most often symmetrical (matching on both sides of the face)


Creams containing a combination of Tretinoin, Kojic acid, and Azelaic acid have been shown to improve the appearance of melasma.

Occasionally, your doctor may recommend chemical peels or topical steroid creams.

In severe cases, laser treatments can be used to remove the dark pigment.

How to prevent Melasma

Avoiding the sun and using sunscreen are keys to preventing melasma.

Melasma often fades over several months after stopping birth control pills or HRT, or after delivering a child.