Most patients who are suffering from melasma are pregnant women. In fact, the condition is so common during pregnancy that it has been dubbed the 'mask of pregnancy' by some. However, others may also be affected by melasma, including men. Understanding melasma and the risk factors that may make the condition more likely is important in preventing and managing the condition.

Melasma 101

Melasma is not a serious condition. It usually does not require treatment and actually goes away on its own in most cases. Some still consider it a cosmetic concern and may be embarrassed by the brown or tan pigmented areas that characterize the condition. If the condition does not go away on its own, certain treatments and medications may be helpful in providing relief. In some cases, melasma may reappear after fading. Sun exposure may increase this chance, as ultraviolet rays from the sun may stimulate melanocytes (pigment producing cells), causing increased pigment in the skin. Staying out of the sunlight is often recommended in avoiding melasma and during treatment for the condition. Sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher is recommended by most dermatologists to prevent melasma and the various symptoms of sun damage. Pregnant women, women taking birth control pills, those undergoing hormone therapy, individuals with family history of melasma and those exposed to excessive amounts of sunlight may be at greater risk of developing melasma.

Treating Melasma

If melasma does not go away after birth or after the woman stops taking birth control pills, certain treatments may be helpful in relieving the condition. Various creams containing hydroquinone as an active ingredient are used to treat melasma. These may be found over-the-counter at local drug stores, although dermatologists may prescribe stronger medications if these do not work. Patients are always encouraged to speak with a medical professional before using any medication. Cosmetic treatments such as chemical peels, laser resurfacing and microdermabrasion may also provide relief. These procedures are designed to produce a controlled damage to the skin and should be thoroughly discussed with a qualified skincare professional. Any further questions about melasma, its symptoms or treatments, consult a skincare professional. SkinCareGuide.com also offers further information about the condition.