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Melasma

Melasma

Melasma (muh-LAZ-muh) is a common skin problem. It causes brown to gray-brown patches on the face. Most people get it on their cheeks, bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, and above their upper lip. It also can appear on other parts of the body that get lots of sun, such as the forearms and neck.

One of the most common treatments for melasma is sun protection. This means wearing sunscreen every day and reapplying the sunscreen every 2 hours. Dermatologists also recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat when you are outside. Sunscreen alone may not give you the protection you need.


Women are far more likely than men to get melasma. It is so common during pregnancy that some people call it the mask of pregnancy. Hormones seem to trigger melasma.


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Melasma:  The forehead is a common place for melasma to appear.
Common signs (what you see) of melasma are brown or gray-brown patches on the face. These patches most commonly appear on the:

�    Cheeks
�    Forehead
�    Bridge of the nose
�    Above the upper lip
�    Chin

Some people get patches on their forearms or neck. This is less common.

Melasma does not cause any symptoms (what people feel). But many people dislike the way melasma makes their skin look


Causes:

Melasma is a very common skin disorder. It is most common in young women with brownish skin tone, but it can affect anyone.


Melasma is often associated with the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is common in:


�    Pregnant women
�    Women taking birth control pills (oral contraceptives)
�    Women taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during menopause.

Being in the sun makes melasma more likely to develop. The problem is more common in tropical climates.


Symptoms


The only symptom of melasma is change in skin color. However, this can cause distress about how you look.

The skin color changes are most often an even brown color. They usually appear on the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip. Dark patches are usually symmetrical (matching on both sides of the face).


What causes melasma?

The exact cause of melasma remains unknown. Experts believe that the dark patches in melasma could be triggered by several factors, including pregnancy, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy (HRT and progesterone), family history of melasma, race, antiseizure medications, and other medications that make the skin more prone to pigmentation after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Uncontrolled sunlight exposure is considered the leading cause of melasma, especially in individuals with a genetic predisposition to this condition. Clinical studies have shown that individuals typically develop melasma in the summer months, when the sun is most intense. In the winter, the hyperpigmentation in melasma tends to be less visible or lighter.

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