Pregnancy is often thought of when considering triggers for melasma, although the condition is not exclusive to pregnant women. Women taking birth controls or undergoing hormone therapy may experience the dark pigmentation of melasma as well. In some cases, men may be affected. The cause is not fully understood, although a family history may put some at greater risk of the condition.

Know Your Condition

Melasma appears as a dark pigmented area on the skin. It is common on the cheeks, forehead and on other areas around the face. The condition is usually brown or tan in color. Before any appointment, take a few minutes to research melasma. Understanding its possible causes (although its exact cause is not fully understood) may be helpful in identifying certain risk factors that may have led to you developing the condition (birth control pills, pregnancy, hormone therapy, sun exposure, family history, etc.).

Think of Some Questions

Write down any questions you have about melasma. Common questions include:

• What may have caused my condition?
• Could I be pregnant?
• Should I stop taking birth control pills?
• Does melasma require treatment? Or will it go away on its own?
• What are my treatment options?

Try to think of a few of your own as well. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions, as a skincare professional is the best resource for information about melasma and other skin conditions.

Expect to Answer Some Questions

Just as you have questions for the skincare professional, he or she probably has a few for you as well. Most professionals diagnose melasma by examining the skin, although they may ask you a few questions as well. Questions about family history are common. They may also ask whether you take birth control pills and may inquire about how much time you spend in the sun. Sun exposure may trigger melasma in some patients, as the ultraviolet rays from the sun may stimulate the production of melanin (pigment that gives skin its color). During your appointment, make sure that you have all of your questions answered and concerns addressed. Do not hesitate to ask a question for fear of embarrassment; skincare professionals have heard all kinds of questions before and they've probably even heard all of the questions you want to ask.