Melasma is a very common patchy brown, tan, or blue-gray facial skin discoloration or patch, usually seen in women of around 20 to 50 years. It typically appears on the upper cheeks, upper lip, forehead, and chin It is usually related to external sun exposure, external hormones like birth control pills, and internal hormonal changes as seen in pregnancy. People with olive or darker skin, like Hispanic, Asian, and Middle Eastern individuals, have higher incidences of melasma. Prevention is primarily aimed at facial sun protection and sun avoidance. Treatment requires regular sunscreen application and medications like fading creams.
- Doctors often use hydroquinone as the first line of treatment for melasma. Hydroquinone is available as a lotion, cream, or gel.
- Corticosteroids and tretinoin in the form of cream, lotion and gel can help lighten the color of the melasma patches.
- In some case dermatologists prescribe combination creams containing hydroquinone, corticosteroids, and tretinoin in one.
- Azelaic or kojic acid sometimes can also be prescribed to lighten the dark areas of skin.