Melasma is an area of tan or brown coloring that usually appears on the face.
A woman with skin that pigments easily may develop melasma if she is pregnant or taking oral contraceptives and then goes out in the sun. The pigmented area often appears like a mask across the cheeks and forehead or on the upper lip.
Melasma causes tan or brown patches to appear on the face. These patches do not itch and are not red or swollen.
Melasma often occurs in women who are pregnant. For this reason, this condition is sometimes called the mask of pregnancy. It may also appear in women who take oral contraceptives.
In order to lower the risk of melasma, a woman can avoid oral contraceptives and stay out of the sun.
A healthcare professional can diagnose melasma based on its physical appearance.
There are no long-term effects from melasma.
There are no risks to others, as melasma is not contagious.
Treatment of melasma includes: bleaching creamsskin care products and peels that contain glycolic acidskin peelssunscreens that extend into the UVA blocking rangelaser treatments
Side effects depend on the specific products used to treat the melasma. Some people may have a mild allergic reaction to the cream or bleach.
The darkened skin of melasma usually fades somewhat after a woman gives birth or stops using oral contraceptives.
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional.
The Merck Manual of Medical Information, 1997
Hill, Marcia J. Skin Disorders: Mosby's Clinical Nursing Series, 1994
Tierney, Lawrence, editor, "Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, 39th edition", 2000