Melasma: the bright side of treating dark spots

by | July 13, 2017 | Discoloration & Pigment


Hyperpigmentation (a fancy word for dark spots on the skin) is one of the main complaints we hear in the professional skin care business. Melasma is often the culprit of hyperpigmentation and can classically be seen on the forehead, cheeks, nose, chin and upper lip. It is medically benign but people who suffer from Melasma are sometimes embarrassed by the dark splotchiness and feel like they can’t leave the house without a lot of make-up on their face. Unfortunately, there is no known cure BUT there are treatments that can help lighten Melasma and help you feel more comfortable in your skin.

woman forhead with Melasma

What’s happening to cause Melasma? Hormones stimulate the overproduction of melanocytes (the cells that make brown pigment) and then sun/heat exposure activate the melanocytes making melanin, which is brown pigment. That’s why people who suffer from Melasma tend to notice worsening pigment in the summer or other times they have increased sun exposure.

There are three types of Melasma:

  1. Epidermal
  2. Dermal
  3. Mixed

The epidermal type is most common and is identified by the presence of excess melanin on the superficial layer of the skin. Since the pigment is located in the epidermis, this type is easiest to treat. In the dermal type, pigment is sandwiched in between the top layer of skin (epidermis) and the subcutaneous tissue in the dermis, making it more difficult to adequately treat. The mixed type involves the combination of the dermal and the epidermal types.

Melasma is most common in pre-menopausal women ages 20 to 50 and is thought to be triggered by surges in certain hormones as well as heat and/or sun exposure. When it occurs during pregnancy, it is often referred to as cholasma or “pregnancy mask.” While the exact cause is still unknown, there are treatments that can help lessen the effects of Melasma. When treating Melasma, it is important to remember the 3 P’s: Patience, Persistence & Precaution.


Preventive Measures & Treatments for Melasma

Melasma is an inconvenient thing to deal with but we are here to help find the solution that is right for you.

Look and feel your best.

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