Melasma is patches of dark skin that are quite common and are referred to as a health and cosmetic problem by many people. It is characterized by an excess production of melanin by melanocytes (pigment cells) and its accumulation in certain areas of the skin. The darkened patches of skin are flat, sharply demarcated and vary in size and shape. The colour may vary from yellow through beige, gray-brown to dark brown. Melasma typically appears on the upper part of the face and less often on chin and neck. The pigmented patches are usually symmetrical.
There are three types of melasma depending on the type of the pigmented spots: centrofacial is the most common, appearing on the forehead, nose, cheeks and upper lip;
malar, involving the nose and chin;
mandibular, involving the lower cheek or jawline;
Melasma is more of a cosmetic problem that is associated with considerable psychological impacts.What causes melasma?Melasma could be triggered by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, use of certain cosmetic products, anaemia, birth control pills and some other medications, hormone disbalance, family history of melasma, thyroid disorder, pregnancy (melasma is particularly common in pregnant women because of the high levels of estrogen. It is also called “the mask of pregnancy”).Melasma treatmentChemical peel (to remove the outer surface layers of skin) or laser therapy to remove pigmented spots.