If you have blotchy patches of discoloration on your skin, you might be suffering from melasma, a harmless condition that can be nonetheless embarrassing and frustrating. At Absolute Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center in Glen Allen and Chesterfield, Virginia, Patricia O'Conner, MD, and the team of dermatology professionals provide expert diagnosis and treatment of melasma using a multifaceted approach to this stubborn skin condition. Schedule your visit today by calling the Richmond-area office nearest you, or send us a message to book an appointment on our contact page.
Melasma is a condition that leaves dark, colored patches on your skin, most commonly around your eyes and mouth. It doesn’t cause any physical harm, but it can affect your appearance, which leaves many people self-conscious. It frequently occurs in pregnant women, when it’s referred to as chloasma or “mask of pregnancy.”
Melasma doesn’t have any single, consistent cause. Certain risk factors make you more likely to develop it, though, including:
The condition occurs more frequently in women than it does in men, with the American Academy of Dermatology estimating that 90 percent of the people who develop it are women.
The patches of discoloration that occur in melasma are typically darker than your normal skin color. They’re most commonly found on your face, particularly your:
The patches are frequently symmetrical, with matching marks appearing on either side of your face.
Melasma can also develop on your neck and forearms, or any other area of your body often exposed to the sun.
The team of dermatology professionals at Absolute Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center can usually diagnose melasma with a simple visual exam.
They might also perform some related tests to rule out other causes of your hyperpigmentation. One such test, Wood’s lamp examination, involves shining a particular light on your skin. The light enables your doctor to assess whether you have any bacterial or fungal infections that could be causing your discoloration. It can also allow them to see how many layers of skin your melasma is affecting.
Your doctor also might perform a biopsy on your discolored skin to make sure that there isn’t a more serious condition at play.
In some cases, melasma can disappear by itself, especially when it has a primarily hormonal cause, like birth control or pregnancy.
If your melasma doesn’t go away on its own, some of the popular treatments, often used in combination, include:
All therapies will be more effective if your daily skin care routine includes a broad-spectrum SPF30+ sunscreen every day.
Schedule your visit with Absolute Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center today by calling the office nearest you, or send us a message to book an appointment on our contact page.