A Look At What Goes Into Treating Melasma

As described by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), melasma is a skin condition that presents itself in the form of discoloration or dark patches relative to a person's natural skin tone. Most often, these patches occur on the face of people who are pregnant or who take hormonal birth control pills. Sometimes, the melasma will go away after birth or once the form of birth control is stopped, but this isn't always the case.


Per Cleveland Clinic, melasma — unlike some other forms of skin discoloration, such as that caused by sun damage — is not harmful or a sign of, say, skin cancer. Because melasma can affect a person's appearance, though, it's understandable that those experiencing it might want to see a dermatologist about getting it treated. If you have melasma or are simply curious about what treating it involves, we've gathered the basics of what you need to know.

Melasma can't be cured forever with treatment

First, we need to break a little bit of bad news, as discussed by the AAD, even with dermatological treatment, melasma cannot be cured, and its appearance may lessen and then return over time. In spite of this, there are treatments that can reduce the discoloration from melasma. Cleveland Clinic mentions topical medications, such as tyrosinase inhibitors, as one potential treatment option. And the good news is, some of these can be used during pregnancy.


Esthetician Candace Marino told Byrdie, however, that those experiencing melasma can help address it, saying, "The number one priority for people experiencing melasma is to get a good SPF and be religious with it." Cleveland Clinic also stresses the importance of practicing sun safety and mentions other possible triggers for melasma, including LED light.

Additionally, the AAD reports that your treatment options for melasma may vary based on your skin tone, since some treatments for melasma can worsen it in those with darker skin.

The weather might affect the appearance of melasma

Even while using sun protection and other treatments, Cleveland Clinic notes that those with melasma might find that it darkens in appearance in the summer. In a blog post on melasma, Windsor Dermatology provides some other suggestions to those who wish to prevent their melasma from darkening during the summer months. Among the suggestions is to avoid skin irritation from skin care products and other sources, such as waxing, which could worsen the appearance of melasma.


Similar to the previous point, skin inflammation might also worsen melasma. Discussing skin inflammation and its effect on hyperpigmentation in general (rather than on melasma specifically), aesthetician Tiara Willis told Healthline, "To protect from inflammation, look for ingredients such as resveratrol, vitamin E, and Centella Asiatica [gotu kola]."

If you have melasma and find that it has worsened in appearance, discuss with your dermatologist if a different treatment option might be right for you.