Melasma is a common skin condition that presents with hyperpigmentation on the skin of women in their reproductive years. Melasma is also called the mask of pregnancy because it mostly affects pregnant women. Approximately 6 million women in the United States have melasma. Although melasma does not cause any pain, it makes many women uncomfortable in their physical appearance.

Melasma is associated with sun damage in Fort Worth and is diagnosed through a medical history and skin examination. There is a test that is used to diagnose melasma that is called a wood’s lamp test that uses a special light to determine the number of skin layers that are affected by melasma and to check for the presence of fungal or bacterial skin infections. It might be hard for melasma to be completely cured but sometimes melasma resolves by itself without any intervention.

What are the Types of Melasma?

There are four types of melasma. That is epidermal melasma, dermal melasma, mixed melasma, and excess melanocytes. Epidermal melasma only affects the outer layer of the skin that is called the epidermis and presents with excess melanin on the skin.

Dermal melasma occurs in the second layer of the skin that is called dermis and presents with melanophages which are cells that ingest melanin. Mixed melasma is a combination of epidermal and dermal melasma while excess melanocytes are found in persons with dark skin.

What are the Symptoms of Melasma?

Melasma commonly occurs in the center of the face which is called the centrofacial region which includes the forehead, nose, upper lip, and chin. Melasma also occurs in the malar region which is on the cheeks and in the mandibular region of the jaw bone.

The symptoms of melasma are hyperpigmentation of the skin and formation of brown, tan, or gray patches on the skin. These skin patches are symmetrical meaning that they affect both sides of the face and other sun-exposed areas.

What Causes Melasma?

The exact cause of melasma is not known but there is a reported relationship between melasma and sun exposure because the ultraviolet sun rays damage the melanocytes which produce melanin. Sun exposure is thought to exacerbate melasma especially if you have an underlying hormonal issue. Exposure to a lot of heat and visible light is also a factor that contributes to melasma and therefore sunscreens may not be very effective although they will protect you from harmful ultraviolet rays.

The risk of melasma also increases with hormonal changes and therefore women who use oral contraceptives and hormonal replacement treatments have an increased risk of melasma. Women also get melasma during pregnancy because of hormonal changes. Some people also have a genetic predisposition to melasma where the condition runs in their family. Other risk factors of melasma include stress and thyroid diseases.

You can cope with melasma by avoiding direct sun exposure by using SPF 30 sunscreen creams daily. You should also consider wearing wide hats when going out with the sun to cover your face. Consider consulting a dermatologist who will assess your skin and provide treatment for the melasma. You can also cover the affected areas with makeup if they affect the way you feel about your physical appearance.


Melasma is a common skin condition that presents with hyperpigmentation of some skin patches on the center of the face, the cheeks, and the malar region. The condition commonly affects women who are pregnant and those who are on hormonal medications. Melasma is caused by sun exposure, hormonal changes, and genetic predisposition. You should consult a doctor if you are uncomfortable with melasma.