which is also commonly known as chloasma or the "mask of pregnancy",
is a skin discoloration which darkens the skin, and is usually
located somewhere on the face.
women, as the nickname suggests, are most at risk of developing
of discoloration are generally irregular and develop quite
gradually. Melasma can usually be diagnosed by a simple skin
examination from a doctor.
Melasma can be contracted by anyone, however besides this
relatively minor complication
of pregnancy, there are a few other groups of people who
are especially at risk including those women taking contraceptives
or some sort of hormone replacement therapy medication.
Because of genetic disposition, Native American men and women
are also particularly at risk of developing melasma on the
forearms, while both men and women of either Russian or German
Jewish descent are at risk of developing melasma on the face.
Melasma is caused by female hormones which, when activated
by sun exposure, stimulate pigment producing cells in the
skin which are responsible for the change in skin tone. Because
this is a condition caused by sun exposure, those with darker
skin who live in areas with higher rates of sun exposure are
more likely to develop melasma.
There are a variety of treatments for melasma, however there
is no cure. Most cases of melasma, particularly those affecting
pregnant women, go away soon after the pregnancy is over.
Melasma can, however, be a lifelong condition.
Any treatment of melasma should include sunscreen, which limits
the skins exposure to the sun, which is what ultimately causes
melasma. Depigmenting agents are also used, which are applied
topically and are available over the counter. Acids are also
commonly used, which may take the form of a facial
treatment is also effective, although tests should be done
to determine whether the melasma is epidermal or dermal as
laser treatment can actually make dermal melasma darken, rather