Who Is at Risk of Melasma?


Melasma is a common skin condition that affects approximately six million women in the United States who are in the reproductive age between puberty and before menopause.  Melasma causes some skin parts to become hyperpigmented. Melasma is a common condition that also affects pregnant women and is referred to as the mask of pregnancy. Melasma is a cosmetic problem that does not cause any medical complications.

If the melasma is making you lose confidence in your physical appearance, you can consult a specialist who will treat the condition. When you visit Dr. Laura Riehm, they will take your medical history and do a physical examination of your skin.  The doctor may also use additional tests like the Wood’s lamp test that examines the number of layers affected by the melasma. This test also confirms the presence of secondary infections and helps to choose the best management plan for you.

How Does Melasma Present?

There are different types of melasma which have a varying presentation. These types include epidermal melasma, dermal melasma, mixed melasma, and melasma, which presents with excess melanocytes in dark-skinned persons. The epidermal melasma only affects the outermost layer of the skin, which is known as the epidermis. Patients with epidermal melasma have excess melanin on their skin.

The second layer of the skin, which is called the dermis, is affected by dermal melasma.  Dermal melasma presents with cells that ingest melanin called melanophages. A combination of epidermal and dermal melasma is known as mixed melasma. Melasma affects different areas on the face but is more common on the forehead, nose, upper lip, malar region, jawbones, and chin.

The areas which are affected by melasma develop brown, gray, or tan patches on the skin. The patches of melasma affect the face symmetrically, that is both sides of the face are affected. Melasma is more typical of the body parts that are exposed to the sun.

What Are the Risk Factors of Melasma?

The exact cause of melasma is not known, but some factors contribute to the development of melasma. These factors include exposure to UV light rays, which damages the melanocytes, causing melasma. Hormonal imbalances also contribute to melasma. Women who are undergoing hormonal changes during pregnancy, hormonal replacement, and oral contraceptives are at risk of melasma.

Your risk of developing melasma multiples if you have an underlying hormonal insufficiency and you get exposed to UV light rays. Being stressed also increases the risk of melasma. Some people are genetically predisposed to melasma, where different members of their family suffer from the condition. Having thyroid diseases also puts women at a higher risk of developing melasma.

You can lower your chances of getting melasma by avoiding direct sun exposure through wearing sunscreen and wearing hats. Reducing your stress levels and seeking help if you notice melasma signs are other effective ways of avoiding melasma. To improve your appearance, you can cover the affected areas with makeup or seek medical treatment.

Melasma is a condition that causes hyperpigmentation of the skin of women in the reproductive age and is common in pregnant women. Direct sun exposure and stress are some of the factors that trigger melasma. You can reduce the chances of getting melasma by avoiding direct sun exposure, putting on hats, and using sunscreens to avoid the UV sun rays. To improve your appearance, you can seek help from a specialist.