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5 Tips to Unmask Melasma

By DuPage Medical Group Dermatology

Are you bothered by facial skin discoloration? If so, it might be melasma. Melasma is a benign skin condition characterized by brown discoloration, or hyperpigmentation, of the face and neck. This condition usually affects women and a very small portion of men, and more commonly occurs in women with darker skin tones. It is believed that certain individuals can even have a genetic predisposition for melasma.

Most women will notice hyperpigmented areas forming on the forehead, cheeks, upper lip, and chin. The development of this disorder is slow and gradual however may be more prevalent in pregnant women, women taking oral contraceptives, and those exposed to excessive sunlight.

Follow our five tips to unmask your melasma.

1. Pregnant/Postpartum Women: Be Patient!

If your melasma was caused by pregnancy, it can fade slowly over several months after the pregnancy is complete. If the discoloration persists, there are many cosmetic treatment options to help lessen the hyperpigmentation.

2. Consider Your Contraception Method

Sometimes melasma is caused by oral contraceptives. Talk to your physician about other birth control methods that may not have this side effect to your skin. Similar to pregnancy, generally once you’ve discontinued usage of oral contraceptives your skin discoloration will start to fade.

3. Protect Your Skin from the Sun

The key to preventing hyperpigmentation is through the strict use of sunscreen. Make sure you practice good sun safety habits on a daily basis. Wear hats with a wide brim when outside as well as sunglasses. When choosing a sunscreen, pick a physical block sunscreen that contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, with a SPF of at least 30, and reapply every two hours when your skin is exposed to the sun at a minimum.

4. Medical Spa Treatment

Cosmetic treatments such as superficial chemical peels containing glycolic acid seem to help hasten the lightening effects of products like hydroquinone and tretinoin.

5. Consider Prescription Treatment

There are several prescription treatments that your provider can use to aid in the fading of the discoloration. Some of these products contain hydroquinone, a bleaching agent, which works over time to fade the affected areas. Some lower dose formulations are available over-the-counter while more potent versions are available through cosmetic prescriptions. The use of tretinoin cream, a topical prescription retinoid, is also effective at alleviating the hyperpigmentation over time. Talk to your dermatologist to find out which would be best for your skin.


Melasma can be a frustrating and cosmetically altering condition. If you believe you may have melasma and desire treatment, please do not hesitate to contact a dermatologist for an evaluation.

Topics and Subtopics: Skin Health

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