Melasma

Treatment

Melasma, a common dermatological condition, is characterized by brown or grayish-brown patches on the skin. The patches are typically symmetrical and appear on the face, most often the cheeks, nose, forehead, and/or upper lip. Melasma can occur in both men and women, but it is more prevalent among females, particularly those with darker skin tones.


The precise cause of melasma remains unclear. Hormonal fluctuations, such as those experienced during pregnancy or while taking birth control medications, are believed to play a significant role. Sun exposure is also considered a contributing factor. Although melasma usually appears on the face, its distinctive dark spots sometimes develop on other parts of the body frequently exposed to the sun.


While melasma does not pose any physical health risks, it can cause psychological and emotional distress for those affected. Treatment options for this skin condition include topical creams, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser therapy. Sun protection is crucial in managing melasma, with the use of broad-spectrum sunscreen and protective clothing recommended. 
 

medical care

Dark or discolored patches on the skin

medical care

Patches with irregular borders 

medical care

Hyperpigmentation (skin is darker than the surrounding areas) 

medical care

Sun sensitivity (sun exposure can intensify the pigmentation)

The development of melasma is typically triggered by one or multiple factors having to do with hormones, skin, or chronic diseases. These factors can include: 

medical care

Sun Exposure: Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun stimulate the production of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes), contributing to the development of melasma.

medical care

Tanning Beds: Similarly to sun exposure, tanning beds bombard skin cells with direct rays that may strain them and cause overstimulation. 

medical care

Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations, often associated with pregnancy (chloasma or "mask of pregnancy") or the use of birth control pills, can trigger melasma. It is more prevalent in women, especially those with darker skin tones.

medical care

Genetics: There is a genetic predisposition to melasma, with a higher likelihood of developing the condition if a close family member has experienced it.

medical care

Cosmetic Products and Irritants: The use of certain cosmetics, skin care products, or procedures that irritate the skin may contribute to the development of melasma, especially in individuals with sensitive skin.

Diagnosis is usually based on a visual examination by a healthcare provider. No specific tests are commonly required for diagnosis, but in some cases, a Wood's lamp or skin biopsy may be used to distinguish melasma from other pigmentation disorders.

Melasma is typically managed through a combination of topical treatments, lifestyle modifications, and preventive measures. Topical treatments often include agents that target pigmentation while sun protection is paramount for individuals being advised to use broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF, wear protective clothing, and avoid prolonged sun exposure. Procedural interventions, such as chemical peels or laser therapy, may be considered for cases resistant to topical treatments. 

In conjunction with treatment, adopting certain habits can contribute to the ongoing management of melasma, promoting skin health and minimizing the risk of recurrence:

medical care

Sun Protection: Consistent and thorough sun protection is crucial. This involves wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF daily, even on cloudy days, and reapplying it as needed. Additionally, using hats and seeking shade helps minimize exposure to harmful UV rays.

medical care

Protective Clothing: Wearing protective clothing, such as wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses, provides an extra layer of defense against UV radiation, reducing the likelihood of melasma worsening.

medical care

Avoiding Sun Peak Hours: Minimize outdoor activities during peak sunlight hours when UV intensity is highest. This helps reduce the risk of triggering melasma and allows the skin to heal.

medical care

Gentle Skincare: Use mild, non-irritating skincare products to cleanse and moisturize the skin. Avoid harsh exfoliants or abrasive scrubs that could worsen pigmentation or irritate sensitive skin.

medical care

Avoiding Irritants: Steer clear of skincare products or cosmetic procedures that may irritate the skin and potentially exacerbate melasma. Gentle and non-irritating formulations are preferred.

medical care

Stress Management: Stress has been linked to skin conditions, including melasma. Practices such as meditation, yoga, and stress-reducing activities can positively impact overall well-being and may contribute to melasma management.

Melasma is not necessarily something that can be prevented, as it often has to do with genetics or factors beyond a person’s control. However, stress management and sun protection have proven to be effective in reducing the chances of the condition’s development. Regular use of sunscreen, protective clothing, and avoiding the times of day of strongest sunlight are some of the best methods of sun protection. Stress management tends to differ from person to person, but methods of avoiding or managing it like breathing practices, regular exercise, and proper sleep each night can help. 

Melasma treatment usually involves topical creams. Less often, medication is taken in tablet form. Prescription medications available for sufferers of melasma include:

medical care

Azelaic Acid (Finacea) 

medical care

Hydroquinone 

medical care

Fluocinonide (Vanos) 

medical care

Tri-Luma (fluocinolone acetonide, hydroquinone, and tretinoin)

medical care

Tranexamic Acid (Lysteda) 

Some people experience side effects due to melasma treatment medication. Possible complications include skin irritation, dryness, itching, and redness in the affected area. Be sure to contact your medical provider if you experience any of these side effects. 

Select a Condition to Start Your Visit

Shop our products

Scroll right to left for more products

How It Works

Read More

Read Less

prescriptions delievered to your doorstep
Step 1
Read More
Step 1
Answer questions about your health

Enter patient information and medical history as well as answer questions relating to your symptoms. This should only take about five or ten minutes.

online doctors review your treatment plan
Step 2
Read More
Step 2
Our providers will review your visit

Our board-certified medical providers will create a custom treatment plan based on your condition and medical history. You can follow your treatment status with our consultation tracker any time after your visit has been submitted, this is located in your patient dashboard.

answer questions about your symptoms
Step 3
Read More
Step 3
Get Rx delivered to your pharmacy or doorstep

Pick up your prescription at your pharmacy of choice within 1-2 hours.  After you receive your treatment plan, connect with your pharmacy to see when they will have your Rx fulfilled. For some medications we offer home delivery options for your convenience.