Melasma, also known as the “mask of pregnancy,” is light-to-dark brown, irregular, patchy pigmentation of the face. It is slow to develop and most commonly affects women with darker skin types.
A number of things can cause melasma, including genetic predisposition, pregnancy, birth control medications, and hormone replacement therapies. Sunlight, or UV light, generally worsens the appearance of melisma, as can irritation or rashes.
Most patients can be helped with treatment. Keep in mind that it often takes years to develop melasma, and lightening this hyperpigmentation may be an ongoing process. It’s also very important for patients with melasma to avoid UV and direct sunlight. To prevent the frustration of spending weeks undergoing melasma treatment, only to have it return after spending time in the sun, we recommend wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen, such as Elta MD®, with sun protective factor (SPF) of at least 30.