Melasma, or the mask of pregnancy, is a skin problem that is caused by an excess of pigmentation and is determined by female sexual hormones. Melasma is a condition that affects mostly women.

Causes of Melasma in Women

Melasma occurs when there are female sexual hormones (progesterone and estrogen) in excess which will cause hyperpigmentation and melanocyte stimulation. The main factor triggering the appearance of melasma is the sun. Melasma may occur in women with lighter complexions:

  • During hormone therapy
  • During pregnancy
  • During birth control pill administration
  • Due to thyroid problems
  • Due to genetics
  • Due to stress

Symptoms of Melasma in Women

The mask of pregnancy is made up of numerous darker colored patches on the forehead, upper cheeks, nose or upper lip. The melasma can worsen due to sun exposure.

Treating or Lightening Melasma

Melasma will fade away after pregnancy or with the discontinuation of the hormones or birth control pills. However, there are a few possible treatments that can lighten or eliminate melasma. Lotions and creams or drugs containing hydroquinone will reduce the production of melanin and diminish the appearance of melasma. Azelaic acid or glycolic acid treatments may also lighten melasma.

Chemical peels may be effective in reducing melasma. However, the solutions known to effectively eliminate melasma are the laser treatments such as fractional resurfacing, Smartxide Dot Therapy or Fraxel. Natural remedies may be used to reduce melasma: lemon juice contains citric acid which will reduce pigmentation; the same effect may be obtained through the use of lactic acids, present in dairy products.