Skin Concern

Melasma & Hyperpigmentation

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About Melasma & Hyperpigmentation

Melasma (chloasma) is a hyperpigmentation of the skin that commonly occurs in pregnancy. It is sometimes called a “pregnancy mask.” In melasma, tan or brown patches appear on the face. Often, melasma will disappear after pregnancy. Sunlight may irritate melasma, so be sure to use proper sunscreen and other sun protection.

Pigmentation is the coloring of a person’s skin. When a person is healthy, his or her skin will appear normal in color. In the case of illness or injury, the person’s skin may change color, becoming darker (hyperpigmentation) or lighter (hypopigmentation).

Hyperpigmentation in skin is caused by an increase in melanin, the substance in the body that is responsible for color (pigment). Certain conditions, such as pregnancy or Addison’s disease (decreased function of the adrenal gland), may cause a greater production of melanin and hyperpigmentation. Exposure to sunlight is a major cause of hyperpigmentaion, and will darken already hyperpigmented areas.

Hyperpigmentation can also be caused by various drugs, including some antibiotics, antiarrhythmics, and antimalarial drugs.

If you have melasma, try to limit your exposure to sunlight, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense. Wear a broad-brimmed hat and use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher at all times, because sunlight will worsen your condition. Sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are also helpful.

For further information about treatment options consult with the dermatologist.

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