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Often called the “mask of pregnancy”, melasma may be a relatively common disorder especially in easily tanning, olive or asian skin. Even though predominantly seen in women, melasma can occasionally affect men and can have a significant psychological impact on patients.

About Melasma

What is melasma?

Melasma (or chloasma) is a common disorder of pigmentation. Seen exclusively on the sun-exposed areas of the face, it is often associated with pregnancy and use of the oral contraceptive pill, and is the result of melanocytic overactivity.

Typically appearing on the upper lip, cheeks, forehead and chin, melasma can be the cause of considerable cosmetic concern for sufferers.

There are three types of melasma, defined by the depth of the affected skin.

  • Epidermal Melasma presents as dark brown patches with well-defined borders. When the outer layer of the skin has been compromised, discolouration responds well to treatment. Epidermal melasma is often more easily treatable with conventional methods such as fading agents and peels.
  • Dermal Melasma presents as light brown or bluish skin patches with ill-defined borders. This is the most difficult form of melasma to treat as it affects a deep level of the skin. This is where dermatologists will utilise more advanced treatment methods such as oral tablets and Q-switched or Picosure laser
  • Mixed Melasma is the most common form of this common skin disorder. It causes a combination of light and dark brown patches, and bluish patches, too.

What causes melasma?

Factors implicated in the aetiology of melasma include genetic predisposition, sun exposure, hormonal factors both endogenous and exogenous (oral contraceptive pill, hormone replacement therapy, intrauterine device, implants), hyperthyroidism, cosmetics and fragrances.

Melasma treatments

Can melasma be treated?

Yes, Melasma is a condition that can be treated, but will require ongoing care and especially protection against the sun! Here at Brisbane Skin we have a range of treatment options available including:

  • Hormonal control
  • Topical depigmenting agents
  • Exfoliants
  • Lasers

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