Pregnancy is often associated with melasma. So much so that melasma is often referred to as the 'mask of pregnancy'. Still, men may have melasma as well. The condition appears as a brown or tan pigmented area on the face. It may reappear after fading if triggered by certain factors such as hormone levels, sunlight, etc.
In most cases, melasma will fade on its own. This may occur after pregnancy or when women stop taking birth control pills. Once melasma fades, patients should take the proper precautions to prevent it from reappearing. Staying out of the sun as much as possible and wearing protective sunscreen are often helpful precautions. Treatment for melasma usually involves a variety of creams containing hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is a common agent used for skin lightening. Over-the-counter products may start relatively cheap at around $10, although in some cases they may be cheaper. If these products do not work, a dermatologist may prescribe a stronger cream. Other active ingredients may be used as well. Patients should consult a doctor before using any medications.
Certain cosmetic procedures may also be used to provide treatment. Chemical peels are one such treatment that may provide relief from melasma, as well as a host of other skin conditions. Chemical peels come in different depths from the very superficial to the very deep. Talk to your doctor about which chemical peel is right for you. These treatments usually run from hundreds of dollars for lighter peels to thousands of dollars for deeper peels. Microdermabrasion is a procedure that utilizes an abrasive brush to produce light damage to the skin. Treatment may cost upwards of $100 per session. Laser resurfacing uses laser energy to produce a controlled damage to the skin. Non-ablative laser treatment may cost a few hundred dollars, while ablative therapies may cost a few thousand dollars. The cost of melasma treatment, or any other treatment for that matter, often depends on several factors. Prices may vary greatly depending on your geographic location and at which clinic, spa or dermatologist's office you visit. The ultimate price of melasma treatment also depends on how the condition responds to treatment and whether further treatment or medication is required. For a more accurate price quote, consult a skincare professional in your area.