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Melasma rash
Typical rash & discoloration
caused by melasma.


Melasma, 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.

Pregnant women, as the nickname suggests, are most at risk of developing melasma.

The patches 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 peel.

Laser 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 than lighten.

More about Melasma around the Web:

All About Melasma

American Academy of Dermatology - Melasma Fact Sheet

Skin changes during pregnancy


This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.


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