Melasma is a common condition that often appears as brown or gray spots on the face, neck, chest or forearms. Though melasma can go away on its own, improvement usually requires treatment from a dermatologist. Continue reading to learn more about melasma.


Melasma is a common skin issue where dark, discolored patches appear on the skin. Melasma often appears more on women than men’s skin, with 90 percent of those with melasma being women. Those with darker skin are also more likely to get melasma. In addition, melasma is genetic, so those who have a relative with it are more susceptible to getting it.


There is yet to be enough research on what causes melasma. However, it is suggested that melasma occurs when the color-making cells in the skin called melanocytes produce too much color. Those born with darker skin are more prone to melasma because they have more active melanocytes than those with lighter skin.

There are a few suggested things that can onset and trigger melasma. They include:


As stated above, melasma causes discolored patches on the skin. The patches are noticeable since they appear darker than your skin color. These patches are typically symmetrical and occur on the face. However, other areas exposed to the sun can also develop melasma.

Melasma patches on the face can often be found on the cheeks, nose bridge, chin and forehead. Sometimes, melasma will occur on the forearms and neck as well. If you believe you have melasma, you should speak with your dermatologist.


The good news is that melasma doesn’t cause pain, although people feel self-conscious about it and how they look. Your dermatologist will be able to determine if you have melasma with a simple visual exam of the affected area.

Your dermatologist may also need to perform a test referred to as a Wood’s lamp examination. This test is performed with a special light held up to your skin, which allows them to determine how many layers of skin are affected by the melasma. In more severe cases, a biopsy may be performed using a small piece of the affected skin.


Depending on the individual and the cause of the melasma, it will sometimes disappear on its own. This disappearance often happens if melasma occurs due to a hormonal change.

After diagnosis, your dermatologist can prescribe medicated creams to help lighten the skin.

If the topical creams do not work, your dermatologist may recommend trying in office procedures, such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, microneedling or laser . Those procedures can be combined and have different mechanisms of action to reduce and lighten the stubborn melasma.


Microdermabrasion is a 30-minute, minimally invasive treatment for the skin that promotes micro-circulation and oxygen production. It effectively boosts collagen, elastin, exfoliation and healthy skin.

At the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC, we use the DermaSweep cosmetic device; this is an affordable and customizable option for improving overall skin health and helping treat melasma. Additionally, DermaSweep is used with customized infusions, which allows us to tailor our patient’s treatment options. This procedure can help with melasma and more, including:

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are procedures that entail a chemical solution applied to the skin to exfoliate the skin and improve the skin’s appearance on the face, neck, chest or hands. The results of chemical peels are newer, healthier and brighter skin. Chemical peels can be used to treat and help improve:

These procedures can help, but they do not guarantee that your melasma will not return. Minimizing skin exposure and wearing sunscreen every day are other actions you can take to help it not to return.


Although melasma is not painful, its effects can be irritating. If you believe you have melasma, let our dermatologists at the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC can help.



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