Melasma – What is it?

What is melasma?

Melasma is a common skin condition of adults in which light to dark brown or greyish pigmentation develops, mainly on the face. Although it can affect both genders and any race, it is more common in women and people with darker skin-types who live in sunny climates. Melasma usually becomes more noticeable in the summer and improves during the winter months. It is not an infection, it is not contagious and it is not due to an allergy. Also, it is not cancerous and will not change into skin cancer.


What causes it?

The exact cause is not known, but several factors contribute. These include pregnancy, hormonal drugs such as the contraceptive pill, and very occasionally medical conditions affecting hormone levels. Some cosmetics, especially those containing perfume, can bring on melasma. There is research to suggest that it can be triggered by stress. Sunshine and the use of sun-beds usually worsen any tendency to melasma. This is always a problem in a tropical country like ours here in Malaysia.

What does it look like?

Melasma is simply darker-than-normal skin affecting the cheeks, forehead, upper lip, nose and chin, usually in a symmetrical manner. It may be limited to the cheeks and nose or just occur overlying the jaw. The neck and, rarely, the forearms can also be affected. Areas of melasma are not raised. Unlike age spots, that are raised and usually have a very clear margin.

Melasma (1)

How is melasma diagnosed?

Melasma is usually easily recognised by the characteristics of the pigmentation and its distribution on the face.

Can it be cured?

No, at present there is no cure for melasma, but there are several treatment options which may improve the appearance. Superficial pigmentation is easier to treat than deep pigmentation. If melasma occurs during pregnancy, it may resolve on its own within a few months after delivery and treatment may not be necessary. Topical creams and serums may help with the treatment of melasma. At the Retreat Clinic, our signature nd-yag laser helps to reduce the appearance of melasma and also with a combination of our customised creams, melasma is controllable.

For more info, call us at 03-33437296 (Setia Alam HQ) or 03-77332395 (Damansara Uptown) for more info.


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